Chinese city sounds alert for bubonic plague: What you need to know

Clay Curtis
July 6, 2020

The plague, caused by the bacterium yersinia pestis, has an Achilles heel in antibiotics.

At a time when the entire world is fighting against COVID19 pandemic, one suspected case of bubonic plague has been reported by a hospital in northern China's Inner Mongolia.

According to reports in China, officials in the city of Bayannur have identified a case of bubonic plague and have sounded the alarm.

Bayannur, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control, state-run People's Daily Online reported.

It killed between 75 and 200 million people in the 14th century, and at least 30 to 50 million from the year 541 to 549.

Cases of bubonic plague are periodically reported around the world. From June 11 to July 4, the city reported 334 confirmed locally transmitted cases, 47 per cent of whom are workers of the Xinfadi wholesale food market, the official said. Officials have warned people to not eat marmots and other animals for now. By the end of the outbreak, 78 percent of the confirmed cases of the disease were from the slums of Surat which created panic. In Madagascar cases of bubonic plague are reported almost every year, during the epidemic season (between September and April).

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China has appeared to have largely controlled the COVID-19 outbreak but the capital city has been battling a local infection cluster linked to a wet market since mid-June.

It was only previous year when a couple died of bubonic plague after consuming raw marmot meat in the western Mongolian province of Bayan-Ulgii.

The disease causes grotesque symptoms such as gangrene and the appearance of large swellings on the groin, armpits or neck, known as "buboes". "Finally, people can become infected from inhaling respiratory droplets after close contact with cats and humans with pneumonic plague". The good news is that it can be treated with antibiotics.

Covid-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of a year ago and has gone on to kill more than 500,000 people.

China's state broadcaster said there were 12 diagnosed cases and three deaths in the province of Qinghai in 2009, and one in Sichuan in 2012.

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