Bubonic Plague In China Not High Risk, According To WHO

With the COVID-19 pandemic far from getting contained, the world was alerted that another virus could be rising in China. This is the bubonic plague following a reported case by local authorities in the City of Bayan Nur in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.

As mentioned in a previous post, a third-level alert was issued by health officials in the city of Bayan Nur. This is the second-lowest in a four-level system. With the development, hunting and eating of animals that may potentially carry the plague have been forbidden. Locals were urged to report any suspected cases that may include fever. Furthermore, they were urged to report sick or dead marmots.

Despite concerns on the plague, also referred to as "Black Death," possibly crashing the COVID-19 problem, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said that the outbreak is "well-managed." At present, it is not considered high risk but they are keeping a close watch and monitoring it.

"We are monitoring the outbreaks in China, we are watching that closely and in partnership with the Chinese authorities and Mongolian authorities," Harris said during a U.N. press briefing in Geneva.

"At the moment we are not...considering it high-risk but we are watching it, monitoring it carefully," she added.

There were two confirmed cases reported so far. A 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-old brother are undergoing treatment after consuming a marmot that was reportedly not cleaned properly. Marmots live in rural areas and are often a carrier of the disease.

The bubonic plague is transmitted by fleas that live off infected rodents or via direct contact with infected tissue. Contracting is painful with people likely to develop swollen lymph nodes, fever chills and coughing. Antibiotics can help provide relief provided this is taken while the plague is in the early stages, which may be hard to identify. It usually develops after three to seven days and is flu-like. If not contained, such could lead to an epidemic.

bubonic plague Plague originated in China centuries before it arrived in the United States by ships around 1900. Photo courtesy

With the world already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, dealing with another one that could be deadlier is something no one would want. The cases are not uncommon in China, although these cases are increasingly rare.

"The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly," a local health authority said to China Daily.

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