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Plague  Lesson 4
 Laboratory Issues - Clinicians


  • Laboratory confirmation is especially important for the first cases in a geographic area, as they will lead to treatment and isolation of additional suspected cases, post- or pre-exposure prophylaxis of those exposed, and other control measures.
  • Clinical diagnostic specimens should be collected immediately when you suspect plague and before antibiotics are administered.
  • You should make every effort to collect and preserve these specimens so that live bacteria can be observed for species confirmation and characterization.
  • Identification of a live isolate confirms the diagnosis and permits determination of the agent’s antimicrobial susceptibility and molecular signature.
  • PCR, antigen detection, or other non-viable test methods only provide presumptive identification.

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Level A Lab

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Page last reviewed February 12, 2007
Page last modified September 7, 2004

  • Content source: CDC Emergency Risk Communication Branch (ERCB), Division of Emergency Operations (DEO), National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
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