Yersinia pestis

While “plague-positive fleas found!” sounds frightening, remember, this isn't the 14th century. No need to run out for a plague mask - Tara Smith PhD

Yersinia pestis
Yersinia pestis

image by: Plague Doctor Costumes

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Plague Tales: Yersinia Pestis

Yersinia pestis, is a facultative anaerobic, Gram-negative, coccobacillus. It is the causative agent of the Plague and responsible for some of the most deadly pandemics in history. While Yersinia pestis is no longer a cause of mass mortality, outbreaks do still occur. Over the last decade, there have been up to 2,000 cases per year reported to the World Health Organization, and likely thousands more unreported.

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 Plague Tales: Yersinia Pestis

When Plague is suspected, treatment should be initiated prior to laboratory confirmation. Gentamicin, Streptomycin, Doxycycline, and Chloramphenicol are all effective.


Y. pestis is the cause of bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic plague. Plague is a zoonotic infection with its reservoirs in rodents and other animals. Humans can be considered accidental victims when they are bitten by rodent fleas or handle animal tissues or, rarely, inhale airborne bacteria from coughing patients or from infected animals.

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