Plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. In its most common form, plague is also known as the bubonic plague. Buboes are the painful, swollen lymph nodes that are often found in people infected with Y. pestis. However, the bacterium can also cause disease in the lungs, the blood stream, and the central nervous system. These diseases are referred to as pneumonic plague, septicemic plague, and meningeal plague.
Y. pestis typically causes disease in rodents and other animals, but it can be spread to humans. If left untreated, plague is fatal 50 to 100 percent of the time depending on where the infection is found in the human body.
Plague is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health by Iowa Administrative Code 641 IAC 1.