Health

Plague re-exported in China, Mongolia


A 25-year-old woman in Mongolia and a three-year-old boy living in China’s Yunnan province have been reported by authorities to have plague.

The woman living in Khovd province, western Mongolia, was found to have the plague after testing at a medical facility. According to the National Center for Animal Diseases (NCZD), this person became infected with the Yersinia bacteria after eating marmot squirrel meat. She and 19 close contacts are currently in quarantine at the local hospital.

Yersinia bacteria are the main causative agent of the plague, commonly found in wildlife and fleas.

Since the beginning of the year, Mongolia has reported 22 suspected cases of plague, of which 6 were confirmed by testing, three died.

Plague cases have also appeared in China recently. On September 27, the Yunnan Provincial Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a three-year-old boy had the plague. The boy was found positive for Yersinia when participating in the national screening program after the outbreak of plague in mice in Minh Hai district.

The local government immediately declared a state of emergency at level 4, the lowest level in the public health warning system. The Minhai District also set up an inspection team to destroy rodents and fleas.

The authorities advise residents to promptly notify if symptoms like fever are detected after exposure to rodent carcasses.

Medical staff classify and label rodent carcasses that can cause plague in China, in 2019. Photo: Reuters

The authorities advise residents to promptly notify if symptoms like fever are detected after exposure to rodent carcasses.

China recorded two deaths from the plague this year, both living in Inner Mongolia, bordering Mongolia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the plague, known as the “Black Death” in the Middle Ages, is a bacterial disease spread from fleas that live on wild rodents like marmot squirrels. It can cause death of adults in less than 24 hours if not treated promptly.

Bitten by a flea infected with the plague bacteria is the most common route of transmission. In addition, direct contact with the tissues of an infected animal, dead or alive, also spreads the disease.

The most recent plague death in Mongolia was a 38-year-old man living in Khovsgol province. This person died in early September after eating Yersinia marmot meat.

Earlier, in August, a 42-year-old man from Khovd province and a 15-year-old boy, Govi-Altai province, also died after contracting the plague.

The NCZD said 17 out of 21 provinces in Mongolia were at risk of a plague outbreak.

Le Hang (Follow News Week)

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