Quick control of bubonic plague outbreak in Uttar Kashi, India

J Commun Dis. 2004 Dec;36(4):233-9.


A localized outbreak of bubonic plague occurred in village Dangud (population 332), district Uttar Kashi, Uttaranchal, India in the second week of October 2004. 8 cases were considered outbreak associated based on their clinical and epidemiological characteristics; 3 (27.3%) of them died within 48 hours of developing illness. All the 3 fatal cases and five surviving cases had enlargement of inguinal lymph nodes. None of them had pneumonia. The age of the cases ranged from 23-70 years and both sexes were affected. No such illness was reported from adjoining villages. The outbreak was fully contained within two weeks of its onset by supervised comprehensive chemoprophylaxis using tetracycline. A total of approximately 1250 persons were given chemoprophylaxis in three villages. There was no clear history of rat fall in the village. No flea was found on rodents or animals. 16 animal serum samples were found to be negative for antibodies against F-1 antigen of Y. pestis. However, Y. pestis was isolated from two rodents (Rattus rattus and Mus musculus) trapped in the village. One case and three animal sera showed borderline sero-positivity against rickettsial infection. The diagnosis of plague was confirmed by detection of four fold rise of antibody titre against F-1 antigen of Yersinia pestis in paired sera of three cases (one of the WHO approved criteria of diagnosis of confirmed plague). This outbreak and the occurrence of earlier outbreaks of plague in Surat (Gujarat) and Beed (Maharashtra) in 1994 and in district Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) in 2002 confirm that plague infection continue to exist in sylvatic foci in many parts of India which is transmitted to humans occasionally. Thus, there is a strong need for the States to monitor the plague activity in known sylvatic foci regularly and have a system of surveillance to facilitate prompt diagnosis and treatment of cases to control the disease. This investigation highlights that with high index of suspicion the disease can be diagnosed early and mounting of supervised comprehensive response can prevent the disease to proceed to pneumonic stage where man to man transmission gets established and outbreak assumes larger dimensions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Plague / epidemiology*
  • Plague / prevention & control*
  • Rats / microbiology
  • Rodent Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rodent Diseases / microbiology
  • Yersinia pestis / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • caf1 protein, Yersinia pestis