Bubonic plague is a zoonotic disease, circulating mainly among small rodents and their fleas, and is one of three types of bacterial infections caused by Yersinia pestis (formerly known as Pasteurella pestis), which belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within 4 days.
The term bubonic plague is derived from the Greek word βουβών, meaning “”groin.”” Swollen lymph nodes (buboes) especially occur in the armpit and groin in persons suffering from bubonic plague. Bubonic plague was often used synonymously for plague, but it does in fact refer specifically to an infection that enters through the skin and travels through the lymphatics, as is often seen in flea-borne infections.
Bubonic plague—along with the septicemic plague and the pneumonic plague, which are the two other manifestations of Y. pestis—is commonly believed to be the cause of the Black Death that swept through Europe in the 14th century and killed an estimated 25 million people, or 30–60% of the European population. Because the plague killed so many of the working population, wages rose and some historians have seen this as a turning point in European economic development
Signs and symptoms
The most infamous symptom of bubonic plague is an infection of the lymph glands (lymphadenitis), which become swollen and painful and are known as buboes. After being transmitted via the bite of an infected flea the Y. pestis bacteria become localized in an inflamed lymph node where they begin to colonize and reproduce. Buboes associated with the bubonic plague are commonly found in the armpits, upper femoral, groin and neck region. Acral gangrene (i.e. of the fingers, toes, lips and nose), is another common symptom.
Due to its bite-based form of infection, the bubonic plague is often the first step of a progressive series of illnesses. Bubonic plague symptoms appear suddenly, usually 2–5 days after exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms include:
-Acral gangrene: Gangrene of the extremities such as toes, fingers, lips and tip of the nose.
-General ill feeling (malaise)
-High fever (39 °Celsius; 102 °Fahrenheit)
-Smooth, painful lymph gland swelling called a bubo, commonly found in the groin, but may occur in the armpits or neck, most often at the site of the initial infection (bite or scratch)
-Pain may occur in the area before the swelling appears
-Skin color changes to a pink hue in some very extreme cases
Other symptoms include heavy breathing, continuous vomiting of blood (hematemesis), aching limbs, coughing, and extreme pain. The pain is usually caused by the decay or decomposition of the skin while the person is still alive. Additional symptoms include extreme fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, lenticulae (black dots scattered throughout the body), delirium, and coma.
Two other types of Y. pestis plague are pneumonic and septicemic. Pneumonic plague, unlike the bubonic or septicemic, induces coughing and is very infectious, allowing it to be spread person to person.”