GC: n

S: WHO – (last access: 28 February 2016); CDC – (last access: 12 November 2013).

N: 1. late 14c., plage, “affliction, calamity, evil, scourge;” early 15c., “malignant disease,” from Old French plage (14c.), from Late Latin plaga, used in Vulgate for “pestilence,” from Latin plaga “stroke, wound,” probably from root of plangere “to strike, lament (by beating the breast),” from or cognate with Greek (Doric) plaga “blow,” from PIE *plak- (2) “to strike, to hit” (cognates: Greek plazein “to drive away,” plessein “to beat, strike;” Old English flocan “to strike, beat;” Gothic flokan “to bewail;” German fluchen, Old Frisian floka “to curse”).
The Latin word also is the source of Old Irish plag (genitive plaige) “plague, pestilence,” German Plage, Dutch plaage. Meaning “epidemic that causes many deaths” is from 1540s; specifically in reference to bubonic plague from c.1600. Modern spelling follows French, which had plague from 15c. Weakened sense of “anything annoying” is from c.1600.
2. Plague symptoms depend on how the patient was exposed to the plague bacteria. Plague can take different clinical forms, but the most common are bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic.

  • Bubonic plague: Patients develop sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). This form usually results from the bite of an infected flea.
  • Septicemic plague: Patients develop fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly bleeding into the skin and other organs. Skin and other tissues may turn black and die, especially on fingers, toes, and the nose. Septicemic plague can occur as the first symptom of plague, or may develop from untreated bubonic plague. This form results from bites of infected fleas or from handling an infected animal.
  • Pneumonic plague: Patients develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous. Pneumonic plague may develop from inhaling infectious droplets or may develop from untreated bubonic or septicemic plague after the bacteria spread to the lungs.

3. When rapidly diagnosed and promptly treated, plague may be successfully managed with antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline, reducing mortality from 60% to less than 15%.
4. plague, infectious fever caused by the bacillus Yersinia pestis, a bacterium transmitted from rodents to humans by the bite of infected fleas. Plague was the cause of some of the most-devastating epidemics in history. It was the disease behind the Black Death of the 14th century, when as much as one-third of Europe’s population died. Huge pandemics also arose in Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, eventually spreading around the world and causing millions of deaths. Today, thanks to strict public health measures and modern antibiotics, plague no longer strikes great numbers of people, nor is it as deadly for those whom it strikes.
5. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list this disease as a potential biological weapon (Category A) used by terrorists.
6. Terminology disambiguation: plague = peste (ES), peste; pest = plaga (ES), plague; black plague or bubonic plague = peste bubónica (ES), peste bubonique; Black Death = peste negra (ES), peste noire; white plague = tuberculosis (ES), tuberculose.
7. Cultural interrelation: We can mention the novel A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) written by Daniel Defoe (1660-1731).

S: 1. OED – (last access: 4 September 2014). 2. CDC – (last access: 12 November 2013). 3. WHO – (last access: 12 November 2013). 4. EncBrit – (last access: 4 September 2014). 5. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 4 September 2014). 6. COSNAUTAS (last access: 17 April 2016); FCB. 7. (last access: 4 September 2014); FCB.

SYN: Yersinia pestis infection (less frequent)

S: TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 4 September 2014)

CR: flea, hemoptysis, louse, pest, pesticide, tuberculosis, yersiniosis.