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Chinese City Sounds Alert for The Bubonic Plague Outbreak

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

On July 1, Xinhua news agency said that two suspected cases of bubonic plague reported in Khovd province in western Mongolia have been confirmed by lab test results. The confirmed cases are a 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-brother. The brothers ate marmot meat, the health official said, and warning people not to eat marmot meat. Bayannur, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control, state-run People's Daily Online reported. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), bubonic plague is the disease is caused by the bacteria Yersinia Pestis, zoonotic bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas, with the symptoms of the disease appearing after an incubation period of one to seven days. The disease usually spreads from bites of fleas that have fed upon infected creatures like mice, rats, rabbits and squirrels.  

There are two main forms of the plague: bubonic and pneumonic (when plague advances to the lungs). According to WHO, bubonic plague is the most common form and is characterised by painful swollen lymph nodes or 'buboes'. It is a rare disease now from 2010 to 2015, there were 3,248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths. It is now mostly endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru. 

But it's unlikely the bubonic plague - infamously known as the Black Death - will lead to an epidemic. The disease is expected to have originated somewhere in Asia, spreading through China and India, before killing of an estimated two-thirds of the European population in the 1340s and 1350s. 

The Black Death caused about 50 million deaths across Africa, Asia and Europe in the 14th Century. Its last terrifying outbreak in London was the Great Plague of 1665, which killed about a fifth of the city's inhabitants. In the 19th Century, there was a plague outbreak in China and India, which killed more than 12 million. 

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