Plague (Yersinia Pestis)

What Is It?

Plague is caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria. It can be a life threatening infection if not treated promptly. Plague has caused several major epidemics in Europe and Asia over the last 2,000 years. Plague has most famously been called "the Black Death" because it can cause skin sores that form black scabs. A plague epidemic in the 14th century killed more than one-third of the population of Europe within a few years. In some cities, up to 75% of the population died within days, with fever and swollen skin sores.

Worldwide, up to 3,000 cases of plague are reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) each year, mostly in Africa, Asia and South America.

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