We reviewed the medical records of 27 patients with plague seen at the Gallup (NM) Indian Medical Center tween 1965 and 1989. Nineteen patients had bubonic plague and eight had septicemic plague. Three patients with septicemic plague and three with bubonic plague died. The patients presented with five different clinical pictures. Ten patients presented with classic signs of plague, five with the appearance of an upper respiratory tract infection, five with a nonspecific febrile syndrome, four with the appearance of a gastrointestinal or urinary tract infection, and three with the appearance of meningitis. Blood cultures were positive in 24 of 25 cases, and bubo aspirate cultures were positive in 10 of 13 cases. All six patients who died were under 30 years old, and all the deaths were related to a failure to treat initially with an antibiotic appropriate for plague. Plague is a treatable disease, but clinicians must have a high index of suspicion and give appropriate antibiotics at the earliest possible time to patients whose presentation suggests plague.
(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:1253-1256)