Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium
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
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
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
Plague has received much attention because it may be used as a
biological weapon. Intentionally released aerosols would cause
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.