Chinese authorities suspect possible cases of bubonic plague

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As if the new coronavirus was not enough to worry about, a disease that caused the Black Death and killed some 50 million people in the 14th century may have turned its ugly head, according to a report.Chinese officials are on high alert after the discovery of a suspected case of bubonic plague in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, the BBC reported.

A shepherd from the city of Bayannur – about 560 miles northwest of Beijing – is in stable quarantine, while a second suspected case involving a 15-year-old boy is under investigation, media reports said. who quoted the local media.

It is not clear how or why the shepherd could have been infected, according to the BBC, which reported that the adolescent was apparently in contact with a groundhog hunted by a dog.

The authorities imposed a level 3 alert until the end of the year. It prohibits the hunting and consumption of animals that could carry the plague and calls on people to report suspected cases.

Even though bubonic plague, which is caused by a bacterial infection, was once the most feared disease on Earth, it can now be easily treated with antibiotics.

He was responsible for the black plague, which killed around 50 million people across Africa, Asia and Europe during the 14th century.

But there have been several large outbreaks since. It killed around one fifth of the population of London during the Great Plague of 1665, while more than 12 million people died of the disease in the 19th century in China and India.

In 2017, an epidemic in Madagascar made more than 300 cases, although a study in the medical journal The Lancet found less than 30 dead.

In May 2019, two people in Mongolia died of the plague, which they contracted after eating raw meat from a groundhog, the same type of rodent with which the 15-year-old girl came into contact.

Untreated, bubonic plague, which is usually transmitted from animals to humans by fleas, has a death rate of 30 to 60%, according to the BBC.

Symptoms include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin.

On the positive side, it is unlikely that cases will lead to an epidemic.

“Unlike the 14th century, we now understand how this disease is transmitted,” said Dr. Shanti Kappagoda, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases at Stanford Health Care, on the Heathline news site, the BBC reported.

“We know how to prevent it. We can also treat patients with effective antibiotics, ”added Kappagoda.

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