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Plague  Lesson 3
 Differential Diagnosis

Bubonic Plague

  • Incubation Period- 2-6 days.
  • Symptoms-
    • Bubonic plague usually begins abruptly with chills followed by a high fever and swollen, painful lymph nodes in the groin, thigh, underarm (axilla), and/or neck. The lymphadenopathy of primary bubonic plague usually presents unilaterally.
    • No more than 24 hours after initial symptom onset, patients develop buboes, which are grossly enlarged, extremely tender lymph nodes draining at the respective site of inoculation. The lymph nodes may be so tender that the patient may avoid moving that area.
    • The affected lymph nodes usually do not feel hot, although the skin appears smooth and reddened.
    • The site where the patient was bitten by infected fleas can sometimes develop small skin lesions, often appearing to be either water-filled blisters or thick coagulated crusts.
    • The patient may experience a rapid pulse and hypotension.
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Axillary Bubo
Axillary Bubo

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Page last reviewed February 12, 2007
Page last modified September 7, 2004

  • Content source: CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch (ERCB), Division of Emergency Operations (DEO), National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
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