Bubonic Plague is a dangerous infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, that while being a very rare ailment today, could still prove to be fatal.

Although the incidence of this illness has decreased tremendously in present times, the bubonic plague, which centuries ago was called “Black Death” and claimed numerous lives, has still not been totally eradicated.
bubonic plague

The name of this disease – bubonic plague - is derived from one of the main indications – swollen, painful and reddened lymph nodes medically known as buboes, such as in lymphoma. These mostly arise in the armpits, neck as well as the groin that is situated between the pubic bones. Also Read: Lymphoma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

If left untreated, bubonic plague can result in severe complications. These include gangrene - the destruction of cells and tissues in fingers and toes due to serious blood clots, meningitis – inflammation of membranes around the brain, spinal cord and even death.

It is hence advised to immediately seek professional medical care, as soon as any signs of bubonic plague are recognized in a person.


The main causative factor of bubonic plague is the microbial organism - Yersinia pestis - a type of bacteria.

The transmission of bacterial infection from a sick individual to a healthy person happens by means of flea bites. Prior to stinging humans, these fleas have dwelled on other afflicted animals like rats, mice, rabbits, dogs and even squirrels.

Another way in which this bacterial germ enters people’s systems is through broken or injured areas on the skin that have encountered the blood of a diseased creature.

Risk Factors

Currently, bubonic plague occurs in barely 10,000 people or even less per year, all over the world.

Nevertheless, some cases are reported annually, with certain aspects making an individual more prone to contracting the bubonic plague, such as:

Crowded Areas:

Living in densely populated regions, in rural locations with poor personal hygiene, sanitation and an elevated number of rodents increases the chances of acquiring bubonic plague.

Work Duties:

Veterinary doctors are constantly treating diseased domestic cats and dogs with sicknesses, which might be infected with yersinia microbes and spread infection.

Outdoor Activities:

Engaging in adventure events like camping or trekking predisposes a person to get bitten by a diseased flea.


The characteristic symptoms of bubonic plague consist of:

Diagnosis And Treatment

The doctor examines any external signs on the body, checks for fever and looks for any indications of buboes or inflamed lymph nodes in the body, by excising a tissue sample from the armpits.

Once the diagnosis of bubonic plague in confirmed, appropriate treatment is initiated. The infected patient has to be promptly admitted to a hospital and the doctor administers a stringent course of antibiotics, to alleviate the symptoms and eliminate the infectious Yersinia pestis bacteria from the person’s system. This diminishes the bulging in the lymph nodes and ensures complete recovery of the patient.


An incidence of bubonic plague can be averted by following some simple preventive measures such as:

Rid Your Home Of Rodents:

Remove any junk lying in the top-most shelves, narrow passages and dark corners of the house, like old boxes, firewood and other items, as rodents tend to stay and thrive in such regions. Make sure to not leave any food lying around that will attract rats or mice. In case you notice any signs of rodents in your home, immediately take the required measures to terminate them.

Ensure The Health Of Your Pets:

Take your furry pet to the veterinarian doctor for regular check-ups and keep them clean, by using suitable products to ward off fleas.

Don Protective Gear:

In case you are a vet or in a profession that involves handling animals often, always remember to wear full-length hand gloves, to avoid your skin from coming in direct contact with any infection.

Apply Insect Repellent:

When travelling to places with a high number of rodents, such as congested tropical cities or outdoor hikes in the wilderness, keep an eye on your children and make sure that they smear insect repellent on the exposed portions of their skin.