The Deadly Bubonic Plague is Back in China

Chinese authorities are on high alert after a case of Bubonic plague, the disease that caused the Black Death and killed half of Europe, emerged last week in the northern autonomous region, Inner Mongolia.

According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the patient is a herdsman and a resident of Bayannur city. Though the condition of the patient is stable, local authorities have quarantined the patient as a precautionary measure.

Moreover, municipal authorities in Bayannur have issued a Level 3 warning for plague prevention. The second-lowest warning in a four-level system will remain in effect until the end of 2020.

Locals have been ordered precautionary measures against the plague. Bayannur residents have been asked to give up hunting and consumption of animals that are known to cause plague infections.

Authorities have urged residents to report suspected cases of the plague and sudden deaths that occur in the area from now on.

At present, there is a high risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly.

Bayannur authorities have also asked locals to report dead or sick marmots, a type of large ground squirrel that has historically caused plague outbreaks in the region.

The 1911 Pneumonic plague in Northern China that killed more than 63,000 people was caused by a marmot.

Last week, Mongolia had reported 2 cases of Bubonic plague as well. According to details, the two patients who are brothers had eaten a marmot days before developing symptoms of the plague.

Bubonic Plague

Caused by bacteria and transmitted through flea bites and infected animals, Bubonic plague is one of the deadliest bacterial infections in human history.

The infection had killed more than 50 million people during the Middle Ages in what is commonly known as Black Death.

There are three forms of Plague; Bubonic plague, Septicemic plague, and Pneumonic plague.

Symptoms of the Plague include painful swollen lymph nodes, high fever, severe chills, and persistent cough which develop after 3 to 7 days.

Another Epidemic?

Healthcare experts have suggested that it is unlikely that the recent Bubonic plague cases will lead to an epidemic.

Dr. Shanti Kappagoda, an infectious disease doctor at Stanford Health Care, has said that unlike in the Middle Ages, doctors now have greater knowledge about the Bubonic plague.

We know how to prevent the Bubonic plague. We have also treated the infected patients with effective antibiotics. Unlike in the 14th Century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted.

It is worth mentioning here that currently there is no effective vaccine available against the plague. However, over the years, modern antibiotics, when administered timely, have helped in preventing complications and deaths.