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Plague (cont.)

Plague Symptoms and Signs

Patient Comments
  • Common general symptoms
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Body aches
    • Sore throat
    • Headache
    • Weakness
    • General feeling of illness
    • Abdominal pain (may be the only symptom for septicemic plague)
    • Nausea, vomiting (sometimes containing blood)
    • Constipation, diarrhea, and black or tarry stools
    • Cough (may contain blood)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Stiff neck
    • Fever, heart irregularities, low blood pressure
    • Confusion, seizures (later in the infection period)
  • Bubo: This is an enlarged, tender, swollen lymph gland most commonly found in the groin, under the arms, or on the neck, depending on the locations of the flea bite.
  • Skin: Bleeding into the tissues can turn tissue black. The medieval name black death is thought to have originated from the deeply darkened skin, bleeding, vomiting blood, and tissue death associated with septicemic and pneumonic plague. The initially rose-colored lesions most likely inspired the child's nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Rosy."
    • "Ring around the rosy" -- rose-colored areas of skin
    • "Pocket full of posies" -- sweet-smelling flowers that those tending the sick would carry to ward off the stench of disease
    • "Ashes, ashes" -- impending death (or "A-choo, a-choo" -- The sneezing and coughing of those with pneumonic plague)
    • "All fall down" -- death
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/7/2013

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Plague »

Plague, first described in the Old Testament, has persisted into the modern era.

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