• Alternative Names

    Bubonic plague; Pneumonic plague; Septicemic plague


    Bubonic plague symptoms appear suddenly, usually after 2 - 5 days of exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms include:

    • Chills
    • General ill feeling (malaise)
    • High fever
    • Muscle pain
    • Severe headache
    • Seizures
    • 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

    Pneumonic plague symptoms appear suddenly, typically 2 - 3 days after exposure. They include:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Frothy, bloody sputum
    • Severe cough

    Septicemic plague may cause death even before its symptoms occur. Symptoms can include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Bleeding due to blood clotting problems
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Low blood pressure
    • Nausea
    • Organ failure
    • Vomiting

    Signs and tests

    Tests that may be done include:

    • Blood culture
    • Culture of lymph node aspirate (fluid taken from an affected lymph node or bubo)
    • Culture of sputum