Agent Identification - Biological

Bubonic & Pneumonic Plague

Plague is another agent of concern and has historically been utilized in attempts to infect and conquer opposing forces in 1346 in the Tartar army in Kaffa and later possibly in 1710 in Sweden. There are some who feel the Black Death epidemic of Europe may have begun with those who were infected and fled the area.*

The three forms of plague include: bubonic, pulmonic and septicemic. The bubonic form which occurs from an infected flea bite and forms a bubo which is an enlarged lymph node and the pneumonic variation which occurs from inhalation. Only the latter is contagious with human to human spread. The pneumonic form leads to pneumonia and coagulation abnormalities and both bubonic and pneumonic plague can lead to septicemia. Treatment is doxycycline or a fluoroquinolone. A vaccine has been developed for the pneumonic plague however, it is not currently available in the U.S.

*USAMRIID’s Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbook 4th Edition February 2001
                U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infections Diseases Fort Detrick  Frederick, Md

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