Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Plague
How can someone reduce the risk of getting pneumonic plague
from another person or giving it to someone else?
People having direct and close contact with someone with pneumonic plague
should wear tightly fitting disposable surgical masks. Patients with the
disease should be isolated and medically supervised for at least the first 48
hours of antibiotic treatment. People who have been exposed to a contagious
person can be protected from developing plague by receiving prompt antibiotic
How is plague diagnosed?
The first step is evaluation by a health worker. If the health worker
suspects pneumonic plague, samples of the patient's blood, sputum, or lymph
node aspirate are sent to a laboratory for testing. Once the laboratory
receives the sample, preliminary results can be ready in less than two hours.
Confirmation will take longer, usually 24 to 48 hours.
How long can plague bacteria exist in the environment?
Yersinia pestis is easily destroyed by sunlight and drying. Even so, when
released into air, the bacterium will survive for up to one hour, depending on
Is a vaccine available to prevent pneumonic plague?
Currently, no plague vaccine is available in the United States. Research is
in progress, but we are not likely to have vaccines for several years or