If your doctor suspects plague, he or she may look for the Yersinia pestis bacteria in samples taken from your:

  • Buboes. If you have the swollen lymph nodes (buboes) characteristic of bubonic plague, a fluid sample can be taken from them with a needle.
  • Blood. Yersinia pestis bacteria generally are present in your bloodstream only if you have septicemic plague.
  • Lungs. To check for pneumonic plague, your doctor will take sputum or fluid from your airways using endoscopy — a thin, flexible tube inserted through your nose or mouth and down your throat.
Aug. 04, 2017
  1. Plague. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/plague/. Accessed Dec. 28, 2015.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Human plague — United States, 2015. MMWR. 2015;64:918. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6433a6.htm?s_cid=mm6433a6_w. Accessed Dec. 28, 2015.
  3. Longo DL, et al., eds. Plague and other Yersinia infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Dec. 28, 2015.
  4. Plague and other Yersinia infections. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/plague-and-other-yersinia-infections. Accessed Dec. 28, 2015.