Pestis and the People
Plague Forms
Pestis Effects

Pestis Effects

Yersinia pestis bacteria has an incubation period of 2 to 8 days.  The victim experiences a fever in the range of 103F-106F, a quickening of pulse and a decrease in blood pressure.  Other possible symptoms are convulsions, vomiting, intolerance to light, delirium, and pain in the limbs.  After the initial symptoms, the bacteria finds the nearest lymph node, which soon becomes swollen and painful and sometimes dark in color.  They are the size of an egg or a small apple.  This is what is known as the infamous bubo.  Technically this is the multiplication of Y. pestis in one area and can be extremely sensitive.  Sometimes Petechiae (small, red spots) also appear.  There are additional effects for the different kinds of plague.

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Without the right medical treatment, half of people suffering from Bubonic plague die, and all cases of Septicemic and Pneumonic plagues result in death.


"It was a plague that touched people of every condition, age, and sex.  They began to spit blood and then they died-some immediately, some in two or three days, and some in a longer time.  And it happened that whoever cared for the sick caught the disease from them, or infected by the corrupt air, became rapidly ill and died in the same way.  Most had swellings in the groin and many had them in the left and right armpits and in other places; one could almost always find an unusual swelling somewhere on the victim's body."

-Matteo Villani, Florentine chronicler



Kristi Taylor