Pneumonic vs Bubonic Plagues: Difference and Comparison

There exist several diseases and disorders that a human body can catch in the entire course of its lifetime. These diseases are of several types and occur in the human body due to several reasons. The gravity of these diseases varies from one another. Almost every single body part of the human body can catch a specific disease that targets a particular organ.

For instance, with the lungs alone, one can catch several diseases and viruses. However, plague is one of the infections that the human lungs and arms, and/or groin can catch, and two of its types are 1. Pneumonic Plague, and 2. Bubonic Plague.

Key Takeaways

  1. Pneumonic plague is a severe respiratory illness caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that can be spread through the air.
  2. Bubonic plague is a type of infection caused by the same bacterium that causes the lymph nodes to become inflamed and swollen.
  3. Pneumonic plague can be spread through the air, while the bubonic plague is spread through flea bites.

Pneumonic Plague vs Bubonic Plague

The bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected flea. The pneumonic plague is a more severe and less common form of the disease. It is transmitted by inhaling infected air droplets from a person or animal.

Pneumonic Plague vs Bubonic Plague
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One of the three types of plagues that causes an extreme infection in the lungs is known as pneumonic plague. It is the kind of plague that is caused by the bacteria called “yersinia pestis.” The other two types of plague include bubonic plague and septicemic plague. It is a highly infectious and fatal disease.

One of the three types of plagues that are caused by the fleas that occur from various animals is known as the bubonic plague. It is also an infectious disease, and it affects the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes called buboes occur in the human body that causes acute pain, and they are swollen because of the infection.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPneumonic PlagueBubonic Plague
DefinitionOne of the three types of plagues that causes an extreme infection in the lungs is known as the pneumonic plague. One of the three types of plagues that is caused by the fleas that occur from various animals is known as the bubonic plague.
Affected areasRespiratory system and thereby the lungs.The lymphatic system and thereby the lymph nodes occur mostly in body parts like underarms and groin.
Lymph nodesAbsentPresent
EcchymosisAbsentPresent
SymptomsCoughing up blood, headache, fever, difficulty in breathing etc.Vomiting, fever, headaches, vomiting blood, seizures etc.

What is Pneumonic Plague?

Pneumonic plague is one of the three types of plagues. It causes infection in the lungs, and the human body shows symptoms like coughing up blood, fever, headache, etc. It is treatable and can be cured by medications alone. It is not a vector-borne disease; the mortality rate is 100%. 

There are two main causes of pneumonic plague. Even if it is not a vector-borne disease, it can be spread by contact and can be spread from person to person. Other than that, it can also be caused when the bacterium is called “Yersinia pestis.”

Among the three forms of plague, pneumonic plague is the rarest form, and it is also highly infectious and serious. Hence, it requires treatment in the early stages. To reduce the risk of death, proper medications must be given to the patient in the first 24 hours when the symptoms are observed.

Preventive measures like wearing a surgical mask can keep one protected from such infection. There have been many cases of pneumonic plague in countries like India, Madagascar, Peru, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States of America, etc. During the Black Death, the maximum number of people died because of the pneumonic plague.

What is Bubonic Plague?

The Bubonic plague is also one of the types of plague. It affects the lymphatic system in the human body, and lymph nodes that are also known as buboes, appear on the body. These lymph nodes mostly occur in the underarm area or the groin. These lymph nodes cause acute pain.

The fluid that is present in a dead animal or the fleas that are present on various animals, if bitten, can cause bubonic plague. The flea, if bitten, transmits the bacteria that travel through the skin to the lymphatic vessels and thereby to the lymphatic nodes that get swollen up because of it.

There are various ways how the bubonic plague can be diagnosed. It can be diagnosed by testing the fluid from the lump nodes or even from the blood. The sputum can be tested as well. However, the treatment to cure the plague can be done by medications like antibiotics.

In countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, and Madagascar, most bubonic plague cases have been found. If a patient is not treated with medications, death can occur within ten days, but if proper medications are done, the death risk is only ten percent.

Main Differences Between Pneumonic and Bubonic Plagues

  1. The pneumonic plague is not a vector-borne disease. On the other hand, bubonic plague is a vector-borne disease.
  2. The pneumonic plague can be caused due to contact with a person that is already affected by the plague or by the bacterium called “Yersinia pestis.” On the other hand, bubonic plague is caused due to the bite from fleas on a certain animal or contact with the fluid that is present in the dead animal. 
  3. Ecchymosis does not occur during the pneumonic plague. On the other hand, ecchymosis does occur during the bubonic plague.
  4. The virulence is higher in the pneumonia plague than that in the bubonic plague.
  5. During pneumonic plague, swollen lymph nodes do not occur in the human body. On the other hand, during the bubonic plague, swollen lymph nodes do occur in the human body.
  6. The symptoms of the pneumonic plague include coughing up blood, headache, fever, difficulty in breathing, etc. On the other hand, the symptoms of the bubonic plague include fever, headaches, vomiting blood, seizures, etc.
References
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24988987
  2. https://journals.asm.org/doi/pdf/10.1128/br.25.3.249-261.1961
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