Plague is not common, and resembles other severe respiratory illnesses, but develops life- threatening respiratory failure, sepsis and shock.
The first expected signs of illness would be fever, headache, weakness and cough with bloody, sometimes watery sputum. The patient typically experiences fever, exhaustion and rapidly developing shortness of breath, chest pain and cough, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, often accompanied by nausea. In 2 to 4 days, the illness would lead to septic shock. Without early treatment the fatality rate is very high.
Yes. There are several antibiotics that can be used to combat plague. Early treatment of infected or exposed individuals is very successful. Antibiotics need to be given within 24 hours of first symptoms.
If plague is diagnosed, all persons who develop a fever or new cough should seek immediate medical treatment from their care provider and promptly begin antibiotic treatment. Persons having household, hospital, or other close contact with persons with untreated pneumonic plague should receive post-exposure antibiotic treatment for 7 days.
Yes. Person-to-person spread occurs through respiratory droplets, which can only infect those who have direct and close (within 6 feet) exposures to an infected individual. Disposable surgical masks may prevent the transmission of plague.