Chinese city issues epidemic warnings for the PLAGUE


Authorities in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia have issued an early epidemic warning after a resident contracted bubonic plague.

Bubonic plague, known as the ‘Black Death’ in the Middle Ages, is one of the most devastating diseases in history, having killed around 100million people in the 14th century.

The confirmed plague case has sparked fears of a new wave of virus outbreak erupting in China when the country is still battling the coronavirus.

But experts have claimed that the disease, which usually affects wild rodents and is spread by infected fleas, will not become a global health threat like COVID-19. 

Authorities in Bayan Nur in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia has issued a warning on Sunday. The file picture taken on December 1, 2018 shows people taking part in a race during an international camel cultural festival held in Wulatehou Banner, Bayan Nur

Health officials in the city of Bayan Nur issued the third-level alert yesterday, the second lowest in a four-level system. The picture shows the geographical location of the city

Health officials in the city of Bayan Nur issued the third-level alert yesterday, the second lowest in a four-level system. The picture shows the geographical location of the city

A local hospital in the city of Bayan Nur alerted the municipal authorities of a suspected plague patient on Saturday, according to the local health commission. 

What is the bubonic plague? 

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by fleas and transmitted between animals.

The bubonic plague – the most common form – is caused by the bite of an infected flea and can spread through contact with infectious bodily fluids or contaminated materials. 

Patients may show signs of fever and nausea and at an advanced stage may develop open sores filled with pus.  

It devastated Europe in the Middle Ages, most notably in the Black Death of the 1340s which killed a third or more of the continent’s population. 

After the Black Death plague became a common phenomenon in Europe, with outbreaks recurring regularly until the 18th century. 

When the Great Plague of 1665 hit, a fifth of people in London died, with victims shut in their homes and red crosses painted on the door. 

Bubonic plague has almost completely vanished from the rich world, with 90 per cent of all cases now found in Africa. 

It is now treatable with antibiotics, as long as they are administered quickly. 

Still, there have been a few non-fatal cases in the U.S., with an average of seven reported a year, according to disease control bosses. 

From 2010 to 2015 there were 3,248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths, says the World Health Organisation. 

Some plague vaccines have been developed, but none are available to the general public. 

The WHO does not recommend vaccination except for high-risk groups such as health care workers.  

Without antibiotics, the bubonic strain can spread to the lungs – where it becomes the more virulent pneumonic form.  

Pneumonic plague, which can kill within 24 hours, can then be passed on through coughing, sneezing or spitting.  

The government immediately issued a citywide level three warning for epidemic control, the second-lowest in a four-level system.

Level three warning is announced in China when a city has detected between one to 20 cases of an infectious disease.

The patient, who remains unidentified, was later diagnosed with bubonic plague, according to a government notice.

The official alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague. 

It also asks the public to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes and to report any sick or dead marmots. 

The warning will stay in place until the end of the year, said the officials. 

Health officials of Beijing city have also warned citizens to avoid overnight camping and close contacts with wild animals when travelling to grasslands in Inner Mongolia. 

Sunday’s warning follows four reported cases of plague in people from Inner Mongolia last November, including two of pneumonic plague, a deadlier variant of plague. 

Fears of a new wave of virus crisis after the coronavirus are fuelled in the country following the new plague case.

However, British health experts have said that no evidence shows bubonic plague can be passed from one person to another, therefore it is unlikely to trigger another health crisis.

Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said: ‘Bubonic plague is a thoroughly unpleasant disease and this case will be of concern locally within Inner Mongolia. 

‘However, it is not going to become a global threat like we have seen with COVID-19. Bubonic plague is transmitted via the bite of infected fleas, and human to human transmission is very rare.’

Prof David Mabey, Professor of Communicable Diseases from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, called the case in China ‘not worrying at all’.

He said: ‘[The disease] is transmitted from rodents to human by flea bites. There were a number of cases recently in Madagascar where it was suspected there might have been human to human transmission due to so called pneumonic plague, when the infection spreads via the blood stream to the lungs, but this was never proven.’

Prof Christl Donnelly, Professor of Applied Statistics, University of Oxford and Professor of Statistical Epidemiology, Imperial College London, said commonly available antibiotics were effective at treating plague. 

‘Sometimes antibiotics are given preventatively to close contacts of cases. Most cases of plague in the last 30 years have been recorded in Africa. However, small numbers of plague cases occur annually in the United States, usually in rural areas of western states,’ Prof Donnelly said.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by fleas and transmitted between animals. The picture above is a 3D illustration of the bacterium

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by fleas and transmitted between animals. The picture above is a 3D illustration of the bacterium

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. 

The plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is usually found in small mammals and their fleas. 

The bubonic plague, known as the ‘Black Death’ in the Middle Ages, is a highly infectious and often fatal disease that is spread mostly by rodents.

The bacterial infection can kill adults within 24 hours if not treated in time. 

Plague cases are not uncommon in China, but outbreaks have become increasingly rare. From 2009 to 2018, China reported 26 cases and 11 deaths.

Plague cases are not uncommon in China, but outbreaks have become increasingly rare. From 2009 to 2018, China reported 26 cases and 11 deaths. Pictured shows a Mongolian marmot

Plague cases are not uncommon in China, but outbreaks have become increasingly rare. From 2009 to 2018, China reported 26 cases and 11 deaths. Pictured shows a Mongolian marmot 

The news comes after Mongolia, China’s neighbouring country, quarantined a region next to the Chinese border after a local cluster of the bubonic plague. 

Two suspected cases of the plague – which is linked to the consumption of marmot meat – have been identified, health experts announced on Wednesday. 

Local reports suggested that the victims were a 27-year-old male and a young woman, although her age is not known.   

The provincial capital in western Mongolia is now in quarantine.  

BUBONIC PLAGUE: WIPED OUT A THIRD OF EUROPE IN THE 14TH CENTURY 

Bubonic plague is one of the most devastating diseases in history, having killed around 100million people during the ‘Black Death’ in the 14th century.

Drawings and paintings from the outbreak, which wiped out about a third of the European population, depict town criers saying ‘bring out your dead’ while dragging trailers piled with infected corpses.

It is caused by a bacterium known as Yersinia pestis, which uses the flea as a host and is usually transmitted to humans via rats.

Drawings and paintings from the outbreak, which wiped out about a third of the European population, depict town criers saying 'bring out your dead' while dragging trailers piled with infected corpses

Drawings and paintings from the outbreak, which wiped out about a third of the European population, depict town criers saying ‘bring out your dead’ while dragging trailers piled with infected corpses

The disease causes grotesque symptoms such as gangrene and the appearance of large swellings on the groin, armpits or neck, known as ‘buboes’.

It kills up to two thirds of sufferers within just four days if it is not treated, although if antibiotics are administered within 24 hours of infection patients are highly likely to survive.

After the Black Death arrived in 1347 plague became a common phenomenon in Europe, with outbreaks recurring regularly until the 18th century.

Bubonic plague has almost completely vanished from the rich world, with 90 per cent of all cases now found in Africa.

However, there have been a few non-fatal cases in the U.S. in recent years, while in August 2013 a 15-year-old boy died in Kyrgyzstan after eating a groundhog infected with the disease.

Three months later, an outbreak in a Madagascan killed at least 20 people in a week. 

A year before 60 people died as a result of the infection, more than in any other country in the world.

Outbreaks in China have been rare in recent years, and most have happened in remote rural areas of the west.

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.

In the United States between five and 15 people die every year as a result, mostly in western states.

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