China’s health authorities are on high alert after a city in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region confirmed one case of bubonic plague reported on Saturday.
According to state reports, the Bayannur patient – a herdsman – is in quarantine and in a stable condition. Local authorities in Bayannur issued a third-level warning for plague prevention and control, the second-lowest in a four-tier system. Less than eight months after two cases of the same type of plague were reported from the same northern province.
The commission issued an advisory for residents in the area to prevent people-to-people infection including not to hunt and eat animals that could cause plague infections.
It asked the public to “report any findings of killed or dead marmots and other animals, and report suspected plague cases, high fever patients with unknown reasons and patients dying from sudden deaths”.
What is Bubonic plague?
Bubonic plague is an infectious bacterial disease which spreads by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots.
How bubonic plague spreads?
According to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the bubonic plague spreads through fleas hosted by infected animals, like rodents — it wiped out millions in medieval Europe before spreading to Asia and Africa in the 14th century — pneumonic plague spreads through cough droplets. Symptoms include persistent high fever, coughing with blood, and chest pain.
In 2014, China had locked down the city of Yumen, home to over 30,000 people, in the northwestern province of Gansu, after a person died of bubonic plague; 151 people were quarantined.
The most recent outbreak of pneumonic plague happened in Madagascar in 2017, with over 2300 confirmed cases and 202 deaths, according to the WHO.