PR. J. DE BRUX / CNRI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PR. J. DE BRUX / CNRI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Bubonic plague bacteria. Historical artwork of pus from a patient with bubonic plague as seen under a light microscope. Within the pus are Yersinia pestis bacteria (rod-shaped), the causative agent of bubonic plague. Bubonic plague is thought to be the Black Death of Europe in the mid-14th century, and also the Great Plague of London in 1664-1665. The bacteria are spread to humans by bites from infected fleas carried on rats. Infection is rapid, causing swollen lymph nodes and leading to septicaemia, which is always fatal, and pulmonary infection, which can be fatal within a day. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can effect a cure.
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