Plague is a deadly disease caused by the plague bacillus (Yersinia pestis). It can be transmitted to humans through rodents, fleas, poorly prepared food, and even through inhaled air. Improvements in sanitation and living standards have made outbreaks of plague extremely rare, although they still occur in parts of the world. Protect yourself and your loved ones from potential infection with the plague: avoid contact with animals carrying it, strictly observe hygiene and sanitation rules, and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect that you may have been infected with the disease.
Part 1 of 3: Plague Prevention
Step 1. Eliminate rodent-friendly habitats around your home
Plague spreads among rats, which are infected by the bites of fleas that use these rodents as hosts. Eliminate possible rat habitats in and around your home. Check for traces of rats in back rooms, thick bushes, basements, garages and the attic.
- The presence of rats can be judged by the excrement they leave. If you find rat droppings, remove them immediately. Be careful, as the plague stick can survive and be passed on to you by touching contaminated excrement.
- Before cleaning rat droppings, be sure to wear gloves and cover your mouth and nose (for example, with a gauze bandage or handkerchief) to avoid contact with pathogenic bacteria.
Step 2. Do not touch sick or dead animals
After the death of an animal, an active plague bacillus may remain in its tissues or in the fleas living on it. Stay away from sick or dead animals that show signs of plague. Plague can be transmitted to a living host through infected tissues and fluids.
Contact the Sanitary Epidemiology Office for help in disposing of dead animals. Service specialists are equipped with protective equipment and they will be able to remove potentially infected animal carcasses with minimal risk to health
Step 3. Use a flea repellent when you go outside
Apply a diethyltoluamide spray or ointment if you intend to be outdoors for a long time. Plague is often spread through the bites of fleas that inhabit rodents' fur and feed on contaminated blood. Diethyltoluamide and other repellents will keep fleas away and help prevent infection.
- Those who often hike, sleep in tents, work outside, or live in dense forests should consider using flea repellents.
- Diethyltoluamide sprays can be applied directly to the skin and are not harmful to the environment. Diethyltoluamide neutralizes natural body odor, making it difficult for insects to find their target.
Step 4. Wash regularly and thoroughly
Wash your hands and face with disinfectant soap and water several times throughout the day, and every time you return from the street or come into contact with animals or their droppings. Plague bacillus can enter the body through the delicate tissues of the mouth, nose, and eyes. Follow basic hygiene practices and be mindful of the risk factors around you.
Try to touch your face with your hands as little as possible. The disease easily penetrates into sensitive tissues, and you never know if you have recently touched something that could have pathogenic bacteria on it
Part 2 of 3: Treating the Disease
Step 1. Take medications to stop the disease
In some cases, the doctor may prescribe the appropriate medication to someone who, in his opinion, may have come into contact with the plague stick. These drugs bind and destroy the plague bacillus in the bloodstream before it can multiply. If you suspect that you or someone you know is at risk of contracting the plague, tell your doctor.
Although there used to be a preventive plague vaccine, it has been discontinued. It is unclear if a new vaccine will be developed, and if so, when exactly
Step 2. Seek medical attention
After contracting the plague, the only recourse is to treat the disease with potent antibiotics. These antibiotics are available in most hospitals in case of a sudden epidemic. If you are unlucky enough to contract the plague, do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.
- If untreated or delayed, the plague is almost certainly fatal. Young children, the elderly, and the infirm are at greatest risk.
- Plague infects the blood, spreads through the bloodstream, and affects lymph nodes, which can ultimately lead to toxic shock and tissue necrosis.
Step 3. Isolate infected people
For the safety of others, those who have contracted the plague should be safely isolated until they receive the necessary treatment. Some hospitals are equipped with special quarantine rooms for patients with infectious diseases, in which strictly controlled conditions are maintained. If, for one reason or another, you cannot get to the hospital immediately, place the infected person in a separate building or room that is located at a sufficient distance from healthy people and keep him there until medical help arrives.
- Call an ambulance immediately on 103 (mobile) or 03 (landline) if someone you know has contracted the plague. Doctors will be able to deliver the patient to the hospital without the risk of infecting others and provide him with the necessary assistance.
- Stay at least one meter away from anyone who may be infected with the airborne form of the plague.
- People with plague may also be given powerful antibiotics such as gentamicin, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, or levofloxacin.
Part 3 of 3: Identifying Risk Factors
Step 1. Find out if there have been cases of plague in your area
Plague outbreaks are more common in overcrowded rural areas. These areas usually have poor sanitation and more rats. Plague most often affects regions of Africa.
Step 2. Find out if your occupation is at increased risk of contracting plague
Veterinarians and their assistants, who deal with animals on a daily basis, are more likely to contract the plague. In addition, those who work outdoors are at higher risk of contracting the plague.
Step 3. Consider if your hobbies are at increased risk of contracting the plague
The likelihood of contracting the plague is increased by outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. Be especially careful if you are in an area that has had cases of plague. Take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by animals or insects. However, keep in mind that only about 5,000 cases of plague are recorded worldwide each year.
Step 4. Be aware of the symptoms of the plague
Plague may not be accompanied by any symptoms for several days. Over the course of a week, the person begins to develop flu-like symptoms, including chills, fever, cold sweats, nausea, and vomiting. As the disease progresses, the lymph nodes become swollen and tender as the body fights the infection. In the later stages, the plague is accompanied by sepsis, that is, blood poisoning, and the decomposition of body tissues. In the end, death comes.
- People with plague may also cough up watery or bloody sputum, have pneumonia, and have abdominal pain.
- It is extremely important to be aware of possible outbreaks of plague in your area. Otherwise, you may not know that you have gotten sick with something more serious than a common cold until it's too late.
- Plague is not limited to third world countries: for example, eight cases of the disease were reported in major cities in California in 1994-2006.
Step 5. Don't let your pets sleep in the same bed with you
Since the plague bacillus is most often transmitted through contact with animals, it is best not to let your pets sleep in the same bed with you, especially if you live in a wooded area or have cases of plague in your area. Your pet may have come into contact with other infected animals or may have been infected with fleas, which, if bitten, spreads the plague to humans.
- Pets should be regularly checked for fleas, ticks and other disease-carrying parasites. In addition, pet owners are advised to use drugs and oil repellents in order to rid their pets of these parasites.
- Dogs may show no symptoms of the disease, but carry fleas around the house, while cats are very susceptible to various forms of plague and can spread bacteria through droplets of saliva as a result of coughing and sneezing.
Step 6. Protect yourself when dealing with animals
Be sure to wear gloves and use a disinfectant when removing droppings. Veterinarians, pest control specialists, and those who have frequent contact with live and deceased animals, such as hunters, must protect their hands, eyes and respiratory system when handling those animals that can carry the disease.
Dead animals should be handled by sanitary workers
Step 7. Check for plague if you travel a lot
In poor and undeveloped regions of the world, outbreaks of plague occur with deplorable frequency. Please read the relevant information if you are planning to visit a country where there is a risk of contracting the plague and take the necessary precautions. After returning from such a region, within a few weeks, it is necessary to undergo a full examination for the presence of the plague bacillus. For a fatal outbreak of a terrible disease, the imprudent behavior of one person is enough, who, moreover, risks becoming the first victim.
- While there are no remedies to prevent infection with plague, your doctor will be able to advise you on other preventive measures when traveling, as well as advise on which areas to avoid.
- Those who travel a lot must undergo a series of tests to identify dangerous and contagious diseases before and after all trips to risky regions.
- If there is a risk of infection, hire a pest control specialist to kill the rodents in your home.
- In the event of a plague outbreak, listen to local news and radio stations for safety precautions. Do not leave the house until it is announced that it is safe.
- Store bottled water and food in case of an emergency that requires you to stay at home.
- A plague epidemic can break out in any city or rural region of our planet at any time. Do not fall for the false idea that you are completely safe, and do not think that the plague is a thing of the past or only threatens the inhabitants of underdeveloped countries.
- In the United States, plague cases are most commonly reported in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. If you live in or have recently visited these states and experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should seek medical attention.