WHO monitoring 'bubonic plague’ outbreak in China

July 08, 2020

THE World Health Organization (WHO) recently said they are “carefully” monitoring a case of bubonic plague in China after being notified by the authorities in Beijing.

The health organization said the situation was being “well managed” by China and not considered to represent a high risk.

The news comes after the WHO also publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus throughout January. But in March, the WHO declared a pandemic caused by the coronavirus after it had spread to dozens of countries. The disease has so far killed more than 538,000 people worldwide.

It was reported that a herdsman in Inner Mongolia region was confirmed at the weekend to have bubonic plague, known as the 'Black Death' in the Middle Ages.

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

From 2010 to 2015 there were 3,248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths, according to WHO.

The government of Bayan Nur, the Chinese city that reported the bubonic plague case, on Sunday issued an early epidemic warning after identifying the herdsman as a suspected patient. The city is also known as Bayannur.

The herdsman was confirmed to have the disease on the same day, sparking fears of a new disease outbreak amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The local leader also instructed relevant residential compounds to 'closely monitor' visitors to prevent the disease from erupting.

Two other cases were confirmed in Khovd province in neighboring Mongolia last week involving brothers who had eaten marmot meat, China's state news agency Xinhua said.

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said “Bubonic plague has been with us and is always with us, for centuries.”  “At the moment, we are not considering it high-risk but we're watching it, monitoring it carefully.”

Bubonic plague is the most common form and is transmitted between animals and humans through the bite of infected fleas and direct contact with carcasses of infected small animals. It is not easily transmitted between people.

The man infected in Inner Mongolia was in stable condition at a hospital in Bayan Nur, the city health commission said in a statement.

Xinhua said another suspected case in neighboring Mongolia, involving a 15-year-old boy who had a fever after eating a marmot hunted by a dog.

Authorities in northern China's Inner Mongolia have claimed that they found four dead rats carrying plague on June 18 - more than two weeks before a herdsman in the area was diagnosed with bubonic plague.

Bacterium, Yersinia pestis had been detected in three epidemic spots in Urad Middle Banner, where the patient had been residing and herding before falling ill, amid fears of a plague outbreak.

The four dead rodents were discovered in one of the epidemic spots, Wengeng Town, and were believed to have died on their own,

Authorities have quarantined 15 people who had come into close contact with the individual and the epidemic spots, covering a total of 3.6 square kilometers were being disinfected.

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.  (DailyMail)