Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Symptoms include fever, weakness and headache. Usually this begins one to seven days after exposure. In the bubonic form there is also swelling of lymph nodes, while in the septicemic form tissues may turn black and die, and in the pneumonic form shortness of breath, cough and chest pain may occur.
Transmission of Y. pestis to an uninfected individual is possible by any of the following means.
droplet contact – coughing or sneezing on another person
direct physical contact – touching an infected person, including sexual contact
indirect contact – usually by touching soil contamination or a contaminated surface
airborne transmission – if the microorganism can remain in the air for long periods
fecal-oral transmission – usually from contaminated food or water sources
vector borne transmission – carried by insects or other animals.