Bubonic plague, a bacterial disease that is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots, has been flagged in a northern Chinese city after a suspected case was reported on Saturday.
The patient is now under treatment at a hospital and is in a stable condition, the Bayannur health commission said in a late Sunday night statement. It also issued a level-three alert, warning of the risks of human-to-human infection and urging citizens to report dead animals, suspected plague cases and patients running a fever for unidentified reasons.
Bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death’, killed 50 million people in a 14th century outbreak in Europe and about 12 million globally in the 19th century. It’s now the most common type of plague and can be treated with antibiotics. Inner Mongolia reported four cases in November while Madagascar sees some cases nearly every year between the months of September and April.
Mongolia also confirmed two cases of bubonic plague earlier this month, triggering a quarantine in the province that borders China and Russia.
While the ailment is treatable, unlike the novel pathogen which has caused the ongoing pandemic, Chinese health authorities are wary of any infectious disease spreading after a hard-fought containment of the coronavirus outbreak. Residents have been asked to take precautions while going to the grasslands, and refrain from approaching and eating wild animals.
Bubonic plague is a bacterial infection and is characterized by painful swollen lymph nodes or ‘buboes’. Less deadly than the pneumonic plague, it occurs when an infected flea bites a person or when materials contaminated with the pathogen enter through a break in a person’s skin.