The plague is an infectious disease due to a bacteria called Yersinia pestis. Y. pestis mainly infects rats and other rodents. Rodents are the prime reservoir for the bacteria. Fleas function as the prime vectors carrying the bacteria from one species to another. The fleas bite the rodents infected with Y. pestis and then they bite people and so transmit the disease to them. Transmission of the plague to people can also occur from eating infected animals such as squirrels (e.g., in the southeastern U.S.) Once someone has the plague, they can transmit it to another person via aerosol droplets. History — Yersinia is named after a Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre- Emile-Jean Yersin (1863-1943) who identified it in 1894 after a trip to Hong Kong looking for the agent that was killing thousands of people in southern China. The same discovery was made at the same time by a Japanese bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasako. The plague has been responsible for devastating epidemics. The disease occurs endemically (at a consistent but low level) in many countries including the United States. "La Peste" (The Plague), a novel (1947) by the Nobel Prize-winning French writer Albert Camus (1913-1960) is set in the Algerian city of Oran overrun by a deadly epidemic of the plague. Bioterrorism — The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the US Congress, in a 1999 report considered plague to be a "possible, but not likely" biologic threat for terrorism, as it is difficult to acquire a suitable strain of Y. pestis and to weaponize and distribute it. Seed stock is difficult to acquire and to process and heat, disinfectants and sunlight render it harmless. The plague is also known as pest and pestis.
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1. Any disease of wide prevalence or of excessive mortality. 2. An acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and marked clinically by high fever, toxemia, prostration, a petechial eruption, lymph node enlargement, and pneumonia, or hemorrhage from the mucous membranes; primarily a disease of rodents, transmitted to humans by fleas that have bitten infected animals. In humans the disease takes one of four clinical forms: bubonic p., septicemic p., pneumonic p., or ambulant p. SYN: pest, pestilence (1), pestis. [L. plaga, a stroke, injury]
- ambulant p., ambulatory p. a mild form of bubonic p. characterized by symptoms such as mild fever and lymphadenitis. SYN: larval p., parapestis, pestis ambulans, pestis minor.
- black p. black death.
- bubonic p. the usual form of p. of which manifestations include inflammatory enlargement of the lymphatic glands in the groin, axillae, or other parts. SYN: glandular p., pestis bubonica, pestis fulminans, pestis major, polyadenitis maligna.
- glandular p. SYN: bubonic p..
- larval p. SYN: ambulant p..
- Pahvant Valley p. SYN: tularemia.
- pneumonic p. a rapidly progressive and frequently fatal form of p. in which there are areas of pulmonary consolidation, with chill, pain in the side, bloody expectoration, high fever, and possible human-to-human transmission. SYN: p. pneumonia, pulmonic p..
- pulmonic p. SYN: pneumonic p..
- septicemic p. a generally fatal form of p. in which there is an intense bacteremia with symptoms of profound toxemia. SYN: pestis siderans.
- sylvatic p. bubonic p. in rats and other wild animals.

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plague 'plāg n
1) an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality: PESTILENCE <a \plague of cholera>
2) a virulent contagious febrile disease that is caused by a bacterium of the genus Yersinia (Y. pestis syn. Pasteurella pestis), that occurs in bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic forms, and that is usu. transmitted from rats to humans by the bite of infected fleas (as in bubonic plague) or directly from person to person (as in pneumonic plague) called also black death

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1. any epidemic disease with a high death rate.
2. an acute epidemic disease of rats and other wild rodents caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is transmitted to humans by rat fleas. Bubonic plague, the most common form of the disease, has an incubation period of 2-6 days. Headache, fever, weakness, aching limbs, and delirium develop and are followed by acute painful swellings of the lymph nodes (see bubo). In favourable cases the buboes burst after about a week, releasing pus, and then heal. In other cases bleeding under the skin, producing black patches, can lead to ulcers, which may prove fatal (hence the former name Black Death). In the most serious cases bacteria enter the bloodstream (septicaemic plague) or lungs (pneumonic plague); if untreated, these are nearly always fatal. Treatment with tetracycline, streptomycin, and chloramphenicol is effective; vaccination against the disease provides only partial protection.

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(plāg) [L. plaga, pestis; Gr. plēgē stroke] 1. a severe acute or chronic enzootic or epizootic bacterial infection caused by Yersinia pestis, which occurs both endemically and epidemically worldwide; it is primarily a disease of urban and sylvatic rodents and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected fleas, especially species of Leptopsylla, Nosopsylla, and Xenopsylla, or by contact with or ingestion of infected animals. Human-to-human infection usually occurs by inhalation of plague bacilli–laden droplet aerosols. The most common forms in humans are bubonic plague, pulmonic plague, and septicemic plague. 2. any of various contagious diseases in animals. Called also pest and pestis.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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  • plague — plague; plague·some; pseu·do·plague; …   English syllables

  • plague — [n1] disease that is widespread affliction, contagion, curse, epidemic, hydra, infection, infestation, influenza, invasion, outbreak, pandemic, pestilence, rash, ravage, scourge; concept 306 plague [n2] annoyance, curse affliction, aggravation,… …   New thesaurus

  • plague — I verb afflict, aggravate, aggrieve, annoy, badger, bait, bedevil, beset, bother, browbeat, bullyrag, cross, devil, discommode, discompose, displease, disquiet, distress, disturb, exagitare, exasperate, exercere, fret, gall, gibe, grate, harry,… …   Law dictionary

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