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The Natural History and Prevention Methods of Bubonic Plague

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My family and I have been planning for a family trip and picnic to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in Badlands, western North Dakota, USA (, 2019). The National Park is ideal for hiking trails, scenic drives, and ranger-led programs. The collection of the three adventure activities would make the trip more excited where at the end of it, everyone from the family was expected to feel relaxed and energized. Therefore, after intense planning, we settled on 1/8/2019 as the day to visit the park. Accordingly, upon visiting the park, we came along prairie dogs during our scenic drives, where we happened to interact with them. At the end of the day, having had fun to the fullest, we packed and left for home in New York City. While on our way home and in particular near Chicago city, we realized that Wilbert, my elder brother had become extremely weak, had a fever, chills, and headache. He was further diarrheic, had abdominal pain, and was vomiting. In addition, he was bleeding from the mouth, was shocked, and he had, become black, which meant that there was the death of tissues. On realizing my brother’s condition had worsened, we rushed him to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Upon being admitted, and after the doctor asked prognosis for Wilbert, we narrated our adventure activity in the national park. The doctor inquired if he had such symptoms before, and of course, we said he didn’t have the same before. However, we informed her that prairie dogs possibly bit Wilbert. After that, the doctor took blood samples of Wilbert for laboratory analysis and further testing. Once the laboratory results were out, she sighed, then after a little thought, she informed us that Wilbert, had acquired Bubonic Plague since we interacted with prairie dogs during the scenic drives. We further inquired more about the disease, in particular on scientific literature, that includes, the natural history, epidemiology, treatment as well as prevention of the virus from the doctor. We did this because we wanted to understand and get more information on the disease. As such, the doctor provided us with a booklet that contained all the information which is discussed hereunder;

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Bubonic Plague Natural History

Bubonic Plague is a disease that has existed over a century. (Gage & Kosoy, 2005) stated that the disease is instigated by an infection known as ‘gram-negative bacterium Yersinia pestis.’ The disease is linked to zoological gardens, which are the home for rodent animals as well as flea vectors, which are the source of this plaque infection, and usually, they infect people through a bite. According to (, 2019). This plaque disease originated from the Roman Empire, given that they were involved in the Persian Gulf battle around 165 AD. They acquired the disease from the environment that they operated since the environment was prone to rats, squirrels, mice, and prairie dogs. As such, the soldiers usually acquired the disease through bites from the rodents during the search for food. In line with this, black rats, according to the studies, were the infected animals and as a result, they would feast on ‘dead rat’s hosts’ where they would later jump to the soldiers while searching for more meals. Generally, three types of significant plaque pandemics affected the world, which was the Justinian Plague that was felt in 541 AD. Secondly, there was Black Death, which was referred to as Bubonic plaque or the great plaque and was experienced in 1334 in China.

Therefore, the second plaque having originated from China in 1334, it quickly spread out due to the high trade directions. Within no time, the disease spread to all other continents such as Asia, Europe, and Africa. The disease claimed 60% of Europe’s population. The studies further state that there were not enough people to bury the dead people due to the outbreak of the disease. Finally, there was a modern plague pandemic, which also emanated from China in the 1860s and later spread out quickly in Hong Kong in 1894.

Given that the rats had spread all over the world as a result of rats going on steamships, the plaque caused 10,000,000 deaths since the plaque was transmitted through communicable flea bites. Subsequently, even though the plaque outbreak was contained in most expansive urban centers, it still spread out since they were ground squirrels and prairie dogs which were found in America, Asia, and Africa. On this note, to date, there have been new species that are rampant in western rural areas of the USA where Theodore Roosevelt National Park is situated (Gage & Kosoy, 2005). For that reason, Wilbert acquired the same from the prairie dogs.

Bubonic Plague Epidemiology

Bubonic Plague affects humans and other mammals and is rampant across all the continents of the world with the exception of Australia. The bacteria thrive in tropical and sub-tropical latitudes with warmer climates but does not survive in high temperatures, especially in the desert where there are few or no rodents (, 2019). The bacteria are carried by many animals and rodents, including Prairie dogs, ground squirrels, mice, wood rabbits, and rabbits. Humans usually get infected by the disease either by being bitten by those rodents carrying the disease or handling an animal that is infected with the same. The plague originated from central Asia with the first pandemic outbreak claiming more than 100,000,000 lives in Asia, Europe, and Africa. A second one is known as the ‘black death’ affecting the three continents and killing 50,000,000 people. Today cases of bubonic plague have gone down thanks to improved health care as well as the living standards with the incidence of some forms of the diseases reducing to zero (World Health Organization. Intl., 2019).

Treatment of Bubonic Plague

Just like any other disease, Bubonic Plague is first diagnosed before being treated. Therefore, the normal is usually a rapid development of painful and swollen lymph gland known as bubo. The presence of the flea bite or the bubo then leads doctors to the diagnosis of Bubonic Plague. On the other hand, whenever there are no possible swollen lymph gland or presence of blood, doctors always take samples of blood from the infected patient for laboratory analysis and testing (Gage & Kosoy, 2005). As such, this helps in the diagnosis of the disease, which leads to immediate treatment. The treatment of Bubonic Plague includes powerful and reliable antibiotics that fight the spread of the disease within the immune system of the affected patient. The medicines include Gentamicin, Chloramphenicol, Levofloxacin, Doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others), Moxifloxacin (Avelox) and Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) (, 2019).

Prevention of Bubonic Plague

The following measures can prevent this disease. First and foremost, there should be limited contact between the rodent fleas and individual. Whenever the same happens or is about to happen, individuals should ensure that they are wearing protective clothing. Alternatively, people should use repellant control products (DEET) for flea, which limits the contact between both parties (, 2019). This ensures that a person doesn’t acquire the disease from Prairie dogs, ground squirrels, mice, wood rabbits, and rabbits. Secondly, no person should allow cats and dogs to roam freely in familiar areas then sleep with them in the bed. This is because the animals may have acquired the disease from infected animals whereof they end up transmitting the infection to homes, thereby affecting everyone in the family if not detected early. In addition, when working outdoors, camping as well as hiking in rodent flea areas such as national parks, people should wear clothing products which contain permethrin. In the event that a person is attending some infected animals, they should use protective gloves, which prevents direct contact with the plaque bacteria. Finally, people should reduce the number of rodent animals in their homes, recreational facilities as well as work stations and by so doing, all these measures will protect people from acquiring Bubonic Plague (Alvarez & Cardineau, 2010).


Bubonic Plague is a disease whose bacteria thrives in tropical and sub-tropical latitudes with warmer climates but does not survive in high temperatures, especially in the desert where there are few or no rodents. Bubonic Plague affects humans and other mammals and is rampant across all the continents of the world with the exception of Australia. Therefore, the disease is preventable and can as well be treated.


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