Plague is a zoonotic and re-emerging disease caused by Yersinia pestis. The disease has caused a devastating effect on the entire world since the time of Justinian plague in the sixth century. Data were searched, screened and compiled from various sources on time, place and magnitude of human plague occurrences in Zambia. It was revealed that plague disease outbreak was first reported in Zambia in early 20th century and human infections had been reported in three zones since 1914. During the first half of the century, the number of human deaths steadily decreased from 93 in 1917 to 1 in 1947. Another outbreak was reported in 1956 after which it remained quiescent until 1987. More human infections were reported between 1990 and 2008. Factors which contributed to plague outbreaks and spread in Zambia included heavy rains, which was usually followed by a large increase in rodent and flea populations, socio-cultural human behaviour and life-style practiced by communities. Such practices were optimal for occurrence and rapid spread of plague including polygamy, hunting, overcrowding in houses, and belief in witchcraft, consequently seeking treatment from traditional healers, and man-rodent contact which was intensified by hunting practice. Despite smaller numbers of cases reported, there is much public health concern about the current plague situation in the country and hence, the disease shouldn’t be neglected. Improving surveillance strategies for the disease and intensifying public health education are therefore desirable in order to sensitise the communities and consequently minimise transmission of the disease.
Keywords: Plague, Yersinia pestis, Review, Overview, Zambia