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Bubonic Plague hits China after Inner Mongolia records its first case


Bubonic Plague hits China after Inner Mongolia records its first case

While the world is still reeling under the incessantly rising cases of COVID-19, a new threat is raising its ugly head in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. On July 6, 2020, the report about a herdsman infected with bubonic plague sent shockwaves to an already distressed world. The herdsmen from Inner Mongolia was tested positive of this rare but serious bacterial infection, after he ate a marmot which is a type of squirrel, raw.

Since then two confirmed cases of the plague were reported last week by the Chinese authorities and now a squirrel in Colorado, the United States has also tested positive for this infection.

According to the local Chinese health officials the herdsman is from the Bayan Nur, and is currently in a stable condition. The second suspected case involves a 15-year-old, who reportedly had been in contact with a marmot hunted by a dog.

The city health commission has issued a third-level alert, which forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry the plague and has instructed the public to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes, and to report any sick or dead marmots.

Plague is an infection of rodents caused by Yersinia pestis and accidentally transmitted to humans by the bite of infected fleas. The disease follows urban and sylvatic cycles and is manifested in bubonic and pneumonic forms.

Bubonic plague along with a collection of plagues caused the Black Death in the 14th century that killed 200 million people across Africa, Asia and Europe erasing 60 percent of Europe’s population. Thus making it the most deadly recorded pandemic in history.

Although this medieval disease is easily treatable with modern medicine, if left untreated, the infected will succumb to it within a week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of Bubonic plague include fever, headache, chills and swollen and painful lymph nodes, called buboes. This form of plague cannot be spread between people. But if left untreated, the disease may spread to the lungs and lead to pneumonic plague, the only form of plague that can spread from person to person.

Although China has largely eradicated the disease, every once in a while a few cases keep popping up, especially among the hunters that come into contact with fleas carrying the bacterium. From 2009 to 2018, China has reported 26 cases and 11 deaths; the last major outbreak being in 2009, when several people died in the town of Ziketan in Qinghai province located on the Tibetan plateau.

Globally, about 1,000 to 2,000 cases of plague are reported every year. In the U.S., about seven cases of plague occur each year, on average, according to the CDC.

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