Plague, an infectious disease, is one of the most serious bacterial infections. Plague, which is extremely dangerous, is not only contagious, but also a deadly disease. The disease caused by the bacteria named “Yersinia Pestis” is also known as “Black Plague” among the people. Yersinia Pestis bacteria are generally found in animals and are most commonly transmitted to humans through fleas. Although researches show that plague is more common in rural settlements, it can easily spread from these regions to cities because of its contagious nature. The high population of mice in distorted urban settlements due to insufficient infrastructure and inadequate hygiene conditions also causes the plague to spread faster. Since the plague disease is a bacterial disease, it is possible to prevent the disease with the antibiotics used today. It is seen that this disease, which has caused great epidemics and countless deaths in the past, has recently begun to disappear with the development and widespread of antibiotics.
What is the plague?
The bacterium called Yersinia Pestis, which causes the disease, was discovered in 1894 as a result of the studies carried out by Alexandre Yersin and took its name from its explorer. This bacterium has a thick and short structure called bacillus and can reproduce fairly easily. It can survive for years in dark and humid environments, even outside the body. It is known that the bacteria can survive for weeks by transforming into a special form, for up to a month in the feces of fleas, and for a few weeks in inflammation and sputum. Yersinia Pestis bacteria, known to be extremely resistant to cold, maintains its viability for very long periods in frozen environments. Researches show that the plague emerged in China and Central Asia and spread to large geographies from here with migration. The plague, described as black death, caused the death of half of the European population in the past. The disease has played a role in the death of many animals, not just humans. Today, after the diagnosis of the disease, it can be treated with 100% antibiotic applications. For this reason, early detection of symptoms is very important in terms of success in the treatment of the disease. Individuals experiencing symptoms related to plague disease should be treated as soon as possible by applying to health institutions.
What are the symptoms of plague?
Since the disease is of more than one type, the symptoms are also quite varied. In addition to high fever, head, waist and leg pains, redness due to flea bites are among the symptoms of the plague type called “Bubonic Plague”. In addition, in the type of plague called “Septicemic Plague”, shivering, weight loss, deterioration of bowel order, vomiting, high fever, blood coming from the mouth and nose, blackening caused by the death of tissues (necrosis) and internal bleeding are the most important symptoms. Coughing, difficulty in breathing, shock, blood in sputum, change in face color, and a feeling of extreme thirst indicate the type of plague called “Pulmonary Plague”. High fever and bleeding from internal organs are among the common symptoms of all types of plague. Since Yersinia Pestis bacteria cause inflammation in the body, it causes high fever. However, internal bleeding is very common as the bacteria damage internal organs. Involuntary bleeding that occurs in certain parts of the body together with high fever must be taken seriously and a specialist should be consulted. Again, swelling in the lymph nodes is among the important symptoms of the disease.
What are the causes of plague?
Yersinia Pestis, a type of bacteria that causes plague, infects wild rodents. 95% of the plague diseases occurring in the world are seen in the poor parts of the African continent. Fleas, which are found as parasites in wild animals, feed on the blood of the diseased animal and play an active role in the spread of the bacteria. It can also be said that these fleas act as an intermediary between wild animals and humans for the bacteria that cause plague. At the same time, consumption of animals with plague disease by humans is another important cause of transmission. Although the disease is mostly seen in rodents, the disease can spread to large masses due to the consumption of these animals in poor sections.
What are the types of plague?
There are several types of plague, namely Bubonic Plague, Septicemic Plague, Lung Plague, and Gastrointestinal Plague. Bubonic plague, the most common type of plague, accounts for approximately 75% of all plague cases. One or two days after the flea bite, redness and swelling of the lymph nodes can be observed in the bitten area. After a few days after being bitten, an inflamed fluid begins to emerge in the lymph nodes, which are swollen due to infection caused by bacteria. If the disease is not treated at this stage, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body and reach much more serious dimensions. One of the organs most affected by the plague is the lung, and when the bacteria reach the lung, a type of plague called “Pulmonary Plague” occurs. At this stage, the disease has reached the deadliest level. Its contagiousness is much higher than other types of plague. If the disease is not treated at this stage, the respiratory tract will be damaged and this can cause sudden death. Since the bacteria are in the lungs, the disease can easily be transmitted to other people by coughing and sneezing. “Gastrointestinal Plague” shows the same symptoms as other types of plague and should be diagnosed and treated like other species. If left untreated, it can lead to death. The “Septicemic Plague” disease occurs when the Yersinia Pestis bacteria multiply in the bloodstream. Since this type of plague spreads very quickly in the body with blood circulation, it poses a threat to all organs. The most important feature of this species is that it spreads directly from the blood to the body. Unlike other types, bubon formation does not appear and is manifested by cracks in the skin, diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding in the internal organs.
How is plague diagnosed?
Since the symptoms of the disease are quite high, the patient should be evaluated from many angles during the diagnosis phase. If plague symptoms are observed in the individual, some tests are performed in the laboratory environment. Since the incubation period of the bacteria is between 2-8 days, blood tests are very important at this stage. In addition, lymph node biopsy can be used as the bacteria can directly affect the lymph nodes. Before starting these procedures, the patient’s history should be taken in detail. Because the symptoms of many bacterial diseases include high fever, vomiting and pain. As a result of the tests, if a type of bacteria called Yersinia Pestis is found in the blood or other parts of the body, treatment should be started immediately in order to take measures before the incubation period of the bacteria is completed. After the diagnosis is made, the patient should be treated in an isolated environment, and antibiotic treatment should be applied to other people who are in the same environment with the patient.
What are the treatment methods for plague?
The most important point in increasing the success rate in the treatment of the disease is early diagnosis. Early diagnosed disease can be cured nearly 100%. There is no need for any surgical intervention in plague disease, which is completely treated with pharmacological methods. After the bacteria are detected in the body, drug therapy should be started quickly. If it is late to start drug therapy, the disease progresses much faster. This situation prolongs and makes the treatment process difficult. Special and powerful antibiotics are used in the treatment of plague disease because it is a bacterial disease and is caused by a single bacterial species. A suitable type of antibiotic such as streptomycin, gentamicin, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin and chloramphenicol may be preferred for the treatment of the disease. However, chloramphenicol is the most widely used antibiotic among these and is effective in the treatment of all plague types.