Article

Treatment of plague: promising alternatives to antibiotics

Laboratory for Plague Microbiology, Department of Infectious Diseases, State Research Center for Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 142279 Obolensk, Serpukhov District, Moscow Region, Russia.
Journal of Medical Microbiology (Impact Factor: 2.27). 12/2006; 55(Pt 11):1461-75. DOI: 10.1099/jmm.0.46697-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Plague still poses a significant threat to human health, and interest has been renewed recently in the possible use of Yersinia pestis as a biological weapon by terrorists. The septicaemic and pneumonic forms are always lethal if untreated. Attempts to treat this deadly disease date back to the era of global pandemics, when various methods were explored. The successful isolation of the plague pathogen led to the beginning of more scientific approaches to the treatment and cure of plague. This subsequently led to specific antibiotic prophylaxis and therapy for Y. pestis. The use of antibiotics such as tetracycline and streptomycin for the treatment of plague has been embraced by the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Plague as the 'gold standard' treatment. However, concerns regarding the development of antibiotic-resistant Y. pestis strains have led to the exploration of alternatives to antibiotics. Several investigators have looked into the use of alternatives, such as immunotherapy, non-pathogen-specific immunomodulatory therapy, phage therapy, bacteriocin therapy, and treatment with inhibitors of virulence factors. The alternative therapies reported in this review should be further investigated by comprehensive studies of their clinical application for the treatment of plague.

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