Plague is an infection caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacteria are found mainly in rats and in the fleas that feed on them. People and other animals can get plague from rat or flea bites. Historically, plague destroyed entire civilizations. In the 1300s, the "Black Death," as it was called, killed approximately one-third of Europe's population. Today plague is uncommon. This is largely due to better living conditions and antibiotics.
There are three forms of plague:
Treatment for plague is a strong antibiotic. There is no vaccine for plague.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
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|Date last updated: 10 September 2008
Topic last reviewed: 26 May 2008