Vector-borne Disease

NCEZID issues critical updates for treating plague

Skin on a man’s hand pictured here to turned black and die due to a plague

Plague caused the skin on the man’s hand pictured here to turn black and die. Although plague still causes disease in the US and around the world, it fortunately can be treated with antibiotics.

Plague, also known as the Black Death, has killed millions worldwide and still causes disease in the US and around the world. A bioweapon attack with Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, could potentially infect thousands – requiring rapid and informed decision-making by clinicians and public health agencies to prevent illness and death.

Fortunately, plague is treatable with antibiotics. After a comprehensive review process, CDC developed plague treatment and prevention recommendations for clinicians and public health officials. These guidelines included several important updates and expanded antibiotic treatment options. The recommendations can inform treatment of patients infected with plague (most commonly through the bite of an infected flea) or in the aftermath of a bioterrorist attack.

This Matters Because

If plague were part of a bioterrorist attack, clinicians and public health officials would immediately need up-to-date guidance on treatment options.

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