China Suspects Case of Bubonic Plague, issues serious preventive and control methods

A city in northern China on Sunday sounded an alert after a suspected case of bubonic plague was reported, according to official media here. Bayannur, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control, state-run People's Daily Online reported.

On July 1, state-run Xinhua news agency said that two suspected cases of bubonic plague reported in Khovd province in western Mongolia have been confirmed by lab test results. The confirmed cases are a 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-old brother. The brothers ate marmot meat, the health official said, warning people not to eat marmot meat.

What is the bubonic plague?

Bubonic plague is a rare but serious bacterial infection transmitted by fleas from rodents.

It is a zoonotic disease and it can be transmitted to other animals or humans. It mainly results from the bite of an infected flea. It may also result from exposure to the body fluids from a dead plague-infected animal.
It is one of the three plagues caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis. The other two being Septicaemic plague and Pneumonic plague.

It is spread by Yersinia pestis bacteria and requires urgent hospitalisation. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it can kill an adult in less than 24 hours, if not treated in time.
Without treatment, the plague can result in the death of 30% to 60% of the infected people.

What are its symptoms?
A person infected with bubonic plague will experience the following symptoms — swollen lymph nodes, which can be as large as chicken eggs, in the groin, armpit or neck. They may be tender and warm. Others include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.

Past occurrences
From 2010 to 2015, there have been over 3,200 reported cases of bubonic plague, which resulted in 584 deaths.
In the 14th century, bubonic plague resulted in Black Death in Asia, Europe and Africa. It caused the death of over 50 million people — around 25% to 60% of the European population.

Bubonic Plague Today

Bubonic Plague Found in a Herder in Inner Mongolia, China Says

A city put control measures in place after one confirmed case of the disease, which caused the Black Death in the Middle Ages.

A flock of sheep in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Province. China said a herder had recently tested positive for the bubonic plague.

A herdsman in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia was confirmed to be infected with bubonic plague, health officials said, a reminder of how even as the world battles a pandemic caused by a novel virus, old threats remain.

The Bayannur city health commission said the plague was diagnosed in the herdsman on Sunday, and he was in stable condition undergoing treatment at a hospital.

The commission also issued a third-level alert, the second lowest in a four-level system, warning people against hunting, eating or transporting potentially infected animals, particularly marmots, and to report any dead or diseased rodents.

The city government said it had put in place plague-prevention measures that would remain in force for the rest of the year.

The disease, which caused the Black Death in the Middle Ages, is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium and is transmitted by fleas that become infected by rodents. In Inner Mongolia, the host is often marmots that live in rural areas.

In November, Beijing officials said two people from Inner Mongolia were found to have pneumonic plague, another form of plague caused by the same bacterium. Pneumonic plague is the only form that can be transmitted person to person, through respiratory droplets.

If not treated, pneumonic plague is invariably fatal, while bubonic plague is fatal in about 30 percent to 60 percent of untreated cases, the World Health Organization says. Antibiotics can cure the disease if delivered early.

The neighboring country of Mongolia also announced on Monday that it had lifted restrictions in Khovd Province after two cases of bubonic plague linked to the consumption of marmot meat were reported a week ago. Health officials said the patients’ conditions had improved, the news site reported.

Plague cases are found in limited numbers across much of the world. In the United States, about seven cases, usually the bubonic form, are reported on average each year, most often in rural areas of western states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.


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