Authorities in China have stepped up precautions after a person in the country’s Inner Mongolian region was diagnosed with bubonic plague.
According to state reports, the Bayannur patient is in quarantine and in a stable condition. A second suspected case involving a 15-year-old girl is currently being investigated. While it remains unclear how either patient contracted the disease, the young girl is said to have been in contact with a marmot (pictured), a species of giant squirrel.
Once the world’s most feared disease, bubonic plague is easily treated nowadays using antibiotics. Nevertheless, the herdsman’s diagnosis will cause concern given the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic globally.
Bubonic plague is caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria that live in some animals (mainly rodents) and their fleas.
As a result of the bubonic plague discovery, a level 3 alert, which bans the hunting and eating of animals that could carry the disease, has been implemented until the end of the year.
It is worth noting that these new cases are nothing out of the ordinary. From 2010 to 2015, 3,248 cases of bubonic plague were reported worldwide, including 584 deaths.
Speaking about the recent bubonic plague outbreak in China, Dr Matthew Dryden, consultant microbiologist at the University of Southampton in the UK, told BBS News: “It is good that this has been picked up and reported at an early stage because it can be isolated, treated and spread prevented.
“Bubonic plague is caused by a bacterium and so, unlike Covid-19, is readily treated with antibiotics. So although this might appear alarming, being another major infectious disease emerging from the East, it appears to be a single suspected case which can be readily treated.”