Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague

Difference Between Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague

Introduction of Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague

The Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague is the fact that bubonic disease predominantly affects the lymphatic system after the bacterium has entered through skin cuts or the moment an affected flea bites someone, and pneumonic plague primarily affects the lungs after a person breaths in airborne bacteria.

Plague is an infection which is caused by the microorganism Yersinia pestis. This is a zoonotic bacteria that is typically encountered in small mammals and their fleas. It can be transmitted to mammals through the use of fleas.

There are three primary types of the plague namely bubonic pneumonic and septicemic. Bubonic plague is a symptom of the lymphatic system and is the most prevalent type of plague. Bubonic plague is transmitted by a flea that has been infected biting someone or a person’s skin.

The bacterium can enter through the skin when it comes into contact with materials that are contaminated by Y. pestis. Pneumonic plague is a lung-related disease and is the most dangerous type of plague. The transmission occurs through the breath of aerosolized bacteria.

What is the Bubonic Plague?

Bubonic plague is among three kinds of diseases that predominantly affect the lymphatic system. The top three countries for the number of cases of bubonic disease are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru.

When bubonic plague is present, when individuals are exposed to the bacteria, they experience influenza-like symptoms like symptoms of fever headaches, achy muscles, and nausea. It can cause swelling or painful lymph nodes within the region close to the place where bacteria get into the skin.

The bubonic plague can cause skin discoloration that is dark known as acral necrosis, and sometimes swelling of lymph nodes, known as buboes. Bubonic plague can be carried by infected fleas of smaller animals.

The disease could also occur as a consequence of exposure to the body fluids of a deceased plague-affected animal. In normal circumstances, mammals like rabbits, hares, and cats are affected by bubonic plague.

They end up dying after contraction. The diagnosis of bubonic plague could be made through an examination of the body and looking for bacteria present in sputum, blood, and fluids from lymph nodes. Treatments for bubonic plague can consist of antibiotics, such as streptomycin, Doxycycline, and gentamycin as well as vaccines to fight the disease.

What is Pneumonic Plague?

Pneumonic plague is a type of plague that primarily targets the lungs. This is the 2nd most commonly encountered form of plague. It’s much more dangerous and is less frequent than bubonic plague. The countries with the greatest number of cases are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, China, Peru, Madagascar, and the United States. The symptoms typically begin around 3-7 days following exposure.

The most common symptoms are weakening, weakness, fever nausea, shortness or no breathing, chest pain coughing, fluid or bloody sputum. Pneumonic plague can occur after the initial septicemic or bubonic plague phase. It could also be caused by the inhalation of airborne droplets by an animal or another human being who is infected by pneumonic disease.

A diagnosis of the pneumonic plague may be made through examination of the body and detecting bacteria that are present in the sputum. In addition, remedies for a plague caused by pneumonic consist of antibiotics, such as streptomycin, gentamycin, and tetracycline as well as Chloramphenicol.

What are the causes of the bubonic and pneumonic plague?

Bubonic Plague:

  • Transmission to humans: Bubonic plague can be transferred to humans via by the bites of affected flea. The fleas contract the disease when they feast on mammals of small size mostly rodents. They naturally store the organism.
  • Bacterial Entry When it is inside a human body, Yersinia pestis is introduced to the bloodstream before being transported into the lymph nodes. In the lymph nodes, it grows rapidly.
  • Lymph Node Infection The bacteria can cause inflammation and infection within the lymph nodes that are closest to the area of the bite from the flea. This causes the typical increase in lymph nodes also known as buboes.
  • Signs: The infection in the lymph nodes can cause the typical signs of bubonic syphilis, which include weakening, chills, fever as well as the painful growth of the lymph nodes.

Pneumonic Plague:

  • Transmission to humans: Pneumonic plague is mostly transmitted from one person to another individual via droplets of respiratory fluid. The disease can also be seen as a result of the an untreated septicemic or bubonic plague.
  • Respiratory Infection In the event that Yersinia pestis infiltrates the lungs by inhaling drops of respiratory fluid or due to diffusion of bloodstreams, it may result in severe infection of the respiratory system.
  • Signs and symptoms: Pneumonic plague leads to severe respiratory symptoms which include a cough, high fever, and breathing problems, as well as chest discomfort. It can quickly progress and cause death if it is not immediately treated.
  • Persistent Person-to-Person-Spread: The respiratory droplets created by sneezing, coughing, or wheezing of an affected person could be passed on to others inhaling these droplets, which can lead to person-to-person transmission.

Treatment and management

The following are some of the main elements of management and treatment for both kinds of plague:

Treatment for Bubonic Plague:

  • Antibiotics Bubonic Plague is treated by antibiotics, and timely treatment is vital to ensure a positive outcome. Most commonly, antibiotics used include streptomycin, gentamicin and Doxycycline and Ciprofloxacin. The selection of an antibiotic could be influenced by factors such as drug availability as well as the patient’s age, or any underlying illnesses.
  • Supportive Care Patients could need supportive care in order to treat issues and other complications. It could include treatment of lymph nodes swelling as well as treatment for symptoms like dehydration and fever.
  • Quarantine and Isolation: Individuals with the disease need to be separated from others in order to avoid the spread of the virus. Contacts with close relatives can be isolated and treated with an antibiotic prophylactically to prevent.

Treatment for Pneumonic Plague:

  • Instant Antibiotics Pneumonic plague can be a serious medical issue and the treatment needs to start as soon as it is feasible. The most effective antibiotics for pneumonic disease are gentamicin streptomycin or ciprofloxacin. The treatment is usually administered intravenously.
  • Isolation People suffering from pneumonic plague need to be isolated inside a space with negative pressure in order to stop the spread of the illness through droplets of respiratory fluid. Healthcare workers should wear protective equipment for their personal.
  • Contact Tracing Recognizing and treating those close to the affected person is essential to avoid any further transmission. Contacts can be treated with antibiotics for prophylactic reasons.
  • Respiratory Support In patients who are severely ill, they could require assistance with their breathing such as oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation in order to control breathing problems.
  • public health response Authorities in the field of healthcare and public health organizations should cooperate in their efforts to control and investigate possible outbreaks. This involves monitoring and following up of contact, decontamination of affected areas, and education on health.

General Considerations for Both Types of Plague:

  • The Vaccination Method: While vaccines for plague exist they’re not commonly used, and they are usually only available to those at a high threat of exposure for example, laboratory employees or scientists.
  • Preventive Measures In order to stop the spreading of the plague Public health measures, including controlling populations of rodents as well as flea and tick control public education on the prevention of the plague can be carried out within the affected regions.

Difference Between Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague

Bubonic plague is primarily affecting the lymphatic system. In contrast, pneumonic plague mostly affects the lungs. This is why this is the main distinction between the two plagues. In addition, the bubonic disease is more atypical and less frequent than the pneumonic plague. Pneumonic plague, on the other hand, is more dangerous and rarer as compared to bubonic plague.

Here’s a comparison chart highlighting the key differences between bubonic and pneumonic plague:

Aspect Bubonic Plague Pneumonic Plague
Causative Agent Yersinia pestis bacterium Yersinia pestis bacterium
Transmission Flea bites, handling infected animals Inhalation of respiratory droplets
Key Symptoms Swollen and painful lymph nodes, fever Rapid onset of fever, severe respiratory symptoms
Other Symptoms Chills, weakness, fatigue Cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing
Affected Body Systems Lymphatic and circulatory systems Respiratory system
Diagnosis Clinical evaluation, blood tests Clinical evaluation, sputum culture, PCR tests
Treatment Antibiotics (e.g., streptomycin) Antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin), isolation and quarantine
Mortality Rate Lower if treated promptly High if not treated promptly
Historical Impact Major pandemics (e.g., Black Death) Less common historically, occasional outbreaks
Recent Cases Occasional cases in some regions Occasional outbreaks in plague-endemic areas
Public Health Concerns Control of rodent and flea populations Rapid person-to-person transmission
Prevention Measures Rodent and flea control, limited vaccines Isolation of infected individuals, respiratory hygiene
Vaccines Limited availability Limited availability
Incubation Period 2-6 days 1-3 days
Onset of Symptoms Gradual Rapid

What are the Similarities Between Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague?

  • Causative Agent: Both bubonic and pneumonic plague are caused by the same bacterium, Yersinia pestis.
  • Origins: Both forms of plague can originate from exposure to infected rodents, such as rats.
  • Initial Symptoms: In the early stages, both diseases often present with symptoms like fever and general weakness.
  • Laboratory Diagnosis: Laboratory tests, including blood tests and PCR tests, are used to diagnose both bubonic and pneumonic plague.
  • Treatment: Antibiotics are effective treatments for both forms of the plague. Drugs like streptomycin and gentamicin are commonly used.
  • Historical Significance: Both bubonic and pneumonic plagues have had significant historical impacts, with major pandemics like the Black Death attributed to bubonic plague and occasional deadly outbreaks of pneumonic plague.
  • Public Health Concerns: Both diseases are considered public health emergencies, requiring rapid response and control measures to prevent further transmission.
  • Preventive Measures: General preventive measures for both diseases include controlling rodent and flea populations, as well as isolation and quarantine measures during outbreaks.
  • Vaccines: Limited availability of vaccines exists for both bubonic and pneumonic plague, although they are not widely used.


Plague is a zoonotic illness that affects mammals and humans. It’s caused by bacteria the Y. pestis. It’s most commonly found in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Bubonic plague is the more prevalent form of the plague, which mostly targets the lymphatic system.

Bubonic plague is characterized by painful swelling of lymph nodes or “buboes may be observed. Pneumonic plague is considered to be the highest deadly kind of plague, and it mainly targets the lungs.

A prompt diagnosis and timely treatment are essential for the treatment of pneumonic plague. If not, the disease could become swiftly and fatal. Identification or detection. pestis using a specimen of pus taken from a bubo or sputum is the most reliable method for confirming the presence of this disease. Thus, it summarizes the distinction between bubonic and pneumonic plague.