What is Plague?

News of the plague is hitting the headlines... but do you know all that you need to know?
Aug. 11, 2015

What is plague?

woman feeling sick and drinking tea
Symptoms for Plague include fever and chills. Photo: Getty Images.

Plague is an infection caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis that can make humans and animals (including pets) sick. Most cases in the U.S. occur in the Four Corners region, California, southern Oregon and western Nevada.

How do people get plague?

  • Flea bites
  • Handling infected animals (skinning animals, disposing of carcasses, etc)
  • Inhaling infected cough droplets from infected humans or pets

Which wild animals carry plague?

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Voles
  • Rabbits
  • Prairie dogs
  • Chipmunks
  • And other rodents

What are the symptoms?

Plague symptoms are different depending on how a person was exposed. In general, people who are infected with plague have the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • All over weakness

Depending on how a person was infected they might also experience:

About the author

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. With 24,000 employees, UCHealth includes 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.