Symptoms Of Black Plague And How To Treat It

Vinnie Wong

In early November 2019, two people from China’s Inner Mongolia region were diagnosed with pneumonic plague. They had travelled from their native province to Beijing and were treated at a hospital in the Chinese capital. As news of plague in China spread, it also sparked off a panic reaction among folks not only in China but also abroad. Users on the popular Chinese social networking site, Weibo, expressed concern about the infection spreading while the patients travelled from Inner Mongolia to China.

On the other hand, the Chinese authorities claimed that the patients were quarantined and all possible areas susceptible to the spread of the disease were disinfected. 

As a parent, it is normal to panic, as our children are vulnerable to contagious diseases like this pneumonic. It is thus important to be aware of what exactly is pneumonic plague, its symptoms and available treatments.

Pneumonic Plague: An Introduction 

black plague symptoms

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Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia Pestis. There are three forms of plague: pneumonic, bubonic and septicemic. All three forms of the plague are caused by the same bacteria but are distinguished from one another by location. While pneumonic plague is a severe infection of the lungs, the more common bubonic plague affects the lymph nodes and the septicemic plague occurs within the bloodstream.

Pneumonic plague is more serious than bubonic plague. According to World Health Organization, this illness is fatal if left untreated. The symptoms appear within three to seven days of exposure, and an untreated patient may pass away within 36 hours.  It was the pneumonic version of the plague that caused the death of 50 million people in the 1300s, thus coming to be known as the Black Death. 

Pneumonic Plague: Symptoms

black plague symptoms

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Some of the symptoms of pneumonic plague include fever, weakness, headaches and nausea. If the pneumonia develops fast, then it can also lead to chest pain, bloody or water sputum, coughs and shortness of breath which can eventually lead to cardiovascular failure. The consequences can range from hypotension, septic shock, sepsis, cardiopulmonary insufficiency, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), failure of vital organs and sudden death.

If your child displays any of the above symptoms, take them to the doctor immediately. Although the plague is an aggressive one, it can be treated efficiently.

Pneumonic Plague: Treatments

black plague symptoms

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If you suspect that your child is showing some or all of the symptoms mentioned above, or might have suffered an exposure to the infection, here’s what can be done:

  • Within 24 hours of the detection of symptoms, antibiotics must be administered
  • It is advisable to wear protective clothing and surgical masks
  • Use insecticides and repellents in the affected surrounding areas
  • If there has been exposure to infected persons, it is recommended that the child should be treated with antibiotics for seven days

It must be remembered that untreated plague approaches a mortality rate of 100%. Some of the drugs that can be used to fight plague include doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim and others. 

The plague in China has brought the recent unpleasant outbreak of pneumonic plague in the limelight. We must be careful and take adequate preventive and curative measures to make the world a safer and a healthier place for our children.

Take note of the above symptoms and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect your child has any flu  symptoms. And remember, it would serve our interests to stay calm and handle emergencies in a rational manner.

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