Risks of plague

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The risk of getting plague

There is a risk of human plague wherever human populations live close to infected animals or fleas. Plague is found in small animals such as:

  • rats
  • ground squirrels
  • other rodents and
  • their fleas 

You are at risk of getting plague if you:

  • get scratched or bitten by infected animals or fleas
  • are in close contact with a person with pneumonic plague
  • handle infected animals or fleas in a way that their body fluids come in contact with your
    • nose
    • mouth or
    • broken skin

Plague can affect people of all ages. It affects both men and women. In the past 20 years most cases have occurred among people living in:

  • small towns
  • villages or
  • agricultural areas

However, outbreaks can also occur in cities.

Travel restrictions

It is always important to know if you are travelling to an area that is having an outbreak. If you are, or if you are going to a country where plague is endemic, get prevention advice.

Travellers to areas where plague routinely occurs may be at risk if they are:

  • camping
  • hunting or
  • in contact with rodents

In general, the risk of plague infection for international travellers is considered low.

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