A serious bacterial infection that is transmitted by fleas is called plague, also known as Black Death during medieval times. If it not treated as soon as possible with medications can be fatal and today it occurs in less than 5,000 people a year.
Yersinia pestis is the organism that causes plague and can be seen in small rodents found in semirural or rural areas of United States, Asia and Africa. It can be transmitted in people who are handling infected animals or people who are bitten by fleas that have fed on infected animals.
Buboes are the most common plague and can cause swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck, groin or armpits while the deadliest but rare form of plagues can spread from person to person and can affect the lungs.
The signs and symptoms of plague vary depending on their types which are bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.
The most common and develops within a week after you were bitten.
This can also cause shock and respiratory failure just within two days of being infected. Consult a physician if suddenly you feel sick and you recently went to a place that is known to have plague such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and California.
Yersinia pestis is the organism that causes plague when the flea that bit you has recently fed on infected animals such as:
Dogs and cats can become infected from flea bites if they ate from infected rodents while people can become infected if you have a break on your skin that comes in contact with blood from an infected animal.
4 Making a Diagnosis
Consult your doctor if you think you have plague and he may refer you to a doctor of infectious disease to receive a diagnosis.
Before going to the hospital, make sure to wear surgical mask to avoid infecting other people.
Ask a family member or close friend to accompany you but be sure that he/she is also wearing a surgical mask. Bring a notebook and there you can write the symptoms that you are experiencing and if you recently traveled in a place where plague is common.
You can also write down the medications, supplements and vitamins that you are taking.
Some of the questions that you can ask your doctor include:
What is causing my symptoms?
What are the other possible causes?
Are they occasional or continuous? How severe are they?
What tests do I need?
What treatments would you recommend?
Do I need to be isolated?
Do I have any restrictions that I will need to follow?
Your doctor will also ask you questions such as:
When did you begin experiencing the symptoms?
Have you recently gone to a place that is common for plague?
Have you recently handled cats or dogs?
Are you aware that you have been bitten by fleas?
Your doctor may also do some tests that will be taken from:
buboes – this is done by a needle to take a fluid sample,
blood – if you have septicemic plague it can be seen in your bloodstream,
lungs – this is done using endoscopy wherein a thin and flexible tube will be inserted in your mouth or nose up to your throat to get a fluid to check for pneumonic plague.
Plague can be treated by antibiotics.
If you are diagnosed with plague, your doctor may admit you to a hospital and they will give you antibiotics such as:
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