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Plague  Lesson 3
 Differential Diagnosis

Primary Pneumonic Plague

  • Progression of Disease
    • Pneumonic plague is rapidly progressive. Patients experience increasing dyspnea, stridor, and cyanosis. Rapidly progressive respiratory failure and sepsis within 2 to 4 days of onset of illness is typical of pneumonic plague.
    • Chest x-rays can be variable but frequently show bilateral patchy infiltrates or consolidation.
    • Shock, including hypotension and multi-organ failure, may also occur. Without early detection and treatment within 24 hours of symptom onset, pneumonic plague is almost universally fatal.
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Chest X-ray
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Chest X-ray with Patches

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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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