Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
Plague has received attention because of its potential use as as biological weapon by terrorists. If intentionally released, the aerosols could cause pneumonic plague in affected populations.
It is important for medical personnel and first responders to prepare for such an event and to be aware of any risk of person-to-person infection.
The typical route of infection in humans is from a rodent flea carrying the plague bacterium or from handling an infected animal. In the Middle Ages, millions of people died in Europe from plague because human homes were inhabited by flea-infested rats. Though antibiotics are effective against plague today, if an infected person is not treated, the disease causes death.
Plague is a disease that is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. Plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.
In recent years, the fear about terrorist attacks with biological weapons has grown. This article addresses issues related to biological warfare and bioterrorism and gives a concise overview of the role that plague has played in the past and present as a biological weapon.
Plague has received much attention because it may be used as a biological weapon. Intentionally released aerosols would cause pneumonic plague.
In order to prepare for such an event, it is important for medical personnel and first responders to form a realistic idea of the risk of person-to-person spread of infection. Historical accounts and contemporary experience show that pneumonic plague is not as contagious as it is commonly believed to be. Persons with plague usually only transmit the infection when the disease is in the endstage, when infected persons cough copious amounts of bloody sputum, and only by means of close contact.