- Two people in the China-Mongolia border have been diagnosed with pneumonic plague
- Pneumonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis – the same bacterium that caused the Black Plague in 14th century Europe
- Pneumonic plague is virulent and damaging and can kill in 24 hours
Authorities report that two new cases of pneumonic plague have been confirmed in northern China. The news comes after two other cases near the China-Mongolia border died o bubonic plague six months prior.
The patients, who both live in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, are being treated in Beijing. Authorities have implemented preventive measures in the area. According to Fabio Scano of WHO China, “The [Chinese] National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases and increasing surveillance“.
The two patients were residents of Sonid Left Banner in Northern China
The plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and transmitted to humans through flea bites and infected animals. It has three forms – pneumonic, septicemic, and bubonic. The pneumonic form, which affects the lungs, can be spread through coughing, spitting, or sneezing. It is highly virulent and damaging and can kill a person in 24 hours. Septicemic plague, on the other hand, infects the blood. Perhaps the most notorious form, the bubonic plague, affects the lymph nodes.
The bubonic plague caused several pandemics throughout the course of human history, with the Black Plague being the most popular, having killed up to 60% of the European population. Currently, no vaccine against the plague is available, but antibiotics can counter complications and prevent death if administered immediately.
The World Health Organization has classified the plague as a re-emerging disease, with close to 50,000 cases recorded globally in the past 20 years. In 2014, the Chinese city of Yumen was affected by the plague after a man was reported to have died due to the disease while in 2017, an outbreak of plague was declared in Madagascar.
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