China seals off village after bubonic plague death

Bubonic plague alert in Inner Mongolia, china
Emeh Joy

The death of a resident of the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia from a centuries-old disease, bubonic plague has caused authorities in the area to seal off the village.

The death of the deceased was reported to the health authorities in Baotou city on Sunday. The Baotou Municipal Health Commission via a statement on its website confirmed the victim was a bubonic plague patient.

The patient's death was linked with circulatory system failure however, the statement did not mention how the patient caught the plague.

Authorities in a bid to curb the disease spread had sealed off Suji Xincun village, where the dead patient resided and ordered for daily disinfection of homes. The villagers who have been tested so far all tested negative for the disease, the statement reported.

Damao Banner, the district where the village is located has been placed on Level 3 alert for plague prevention, the second-lowest in a four-level system, until the end of the year.

This is the second case and the first death of the bubonic plague, which China has confirmed this year. The previous case was in Bayannur, another city in Inner Mongolia. It was discovered in July and led to the issuing of another level 3 alert and closure of some tourist spots.

More about the bubonic plague

Plague is typically caused by bacteria and is transmitted via flea bites and infected animals and killed an estimated 50 million people in Europe during the Black Death pandemic in the Middle Ages.

Bubonic plague happens to be one of the three forms in which plague occurs. It causes painful swollen lymph nodes, chills, fever and cough.

Bulbonic plague infection causes swollen lymph nodes, cough, chills fever

The discovery of antibiotics, which is useful in treating infections, has helped curb the outbreaks of plague thus, preventing the type of rapid spread that once occurred in Europe in the Middle Ages.

However, plagues have not been eliminated entirely as it has made a recent comeback, leading to the World Health Organization categorising it as a re-emerging disease.

Common recurrence of plague

According to the World Health Organization, about 1,000 to 2,000 people get the plague every year. But the total is most likely a modest estimate considering the fact that unreported cases are not accounted for.

A 2016 data reported that the possibility of plague exists on almost every continent especially the western United States, some regions in Brazil, large areas in India, China and the Middle East as well as scattered areas in southeast Africa.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US has had about a few dozen cases of plague every year. In 2015, two people from Colorado died from the plague.

Marmots, a type of large ground squirrel which some Chinese people eat have been historically linked to plague outbreaks in some regions in China.

Marmot, a type of large underground squirrel believed to have caused the 1911 pneumonia plague

The marmot is believed to have caused the 1911 pneumonic plague pandemic which caused the death of about 63,000 people in northeast China.

The animal was hunted for its fur, which gained more popularity among international traders. The diseased fur and its products were traded and transported across the country; thus, infecting thousands along the way.

Baotou authorities on Thursday had warned of a risk of "a human plague epidemic spreading in the city". The urged the public to be cautious and seek immediate health attention if they develop symptoms of cough or fever.

They also implored the public to avoid hunting, skinning or eating animals that could cause infection as well as reduce contact with wild animals while travelling.

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