China issues bubonic plague alert as suspected cases linked to eating raw marmot emerge in the country

"At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city," a statement from the local health authority stated


                            China issues bubonic plague alert as suspected cases linked to eating raw marmot emerge in the country
(Getty Images)
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China has issued a health warning as suspected cases of bubonic plague were reported in Inner Mongolia. A 15-year-old boy from Ulaankhus soum of the autonomous region has been hospitalized after having a high fever. Reports said the boy had eaten a marmot hunted by a dog.

While in another case, a 27-year-old man and his brother, 17, were admitted to two different hospitals in Khovd province. The conditions of Pansoch Buyainbat and his brother were reportedly described as “stable”. On Saturday, July 4, the authorities sounded an alert in Inner Mongolia's Bayannur with the area being placed on a third level alert - a step from the highest warning. The alert prohibits the hunting and eating of animals that could carry the plague. It also urges the public to notify any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes and to let know the authorities about any sick or dead marmots.

An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, has said that locals in the region believe that eating raw marmot meat and kidney will help them in maintaining good health despite the fact that marmots are a carrier of the plague bacteria. As per reports, the latest health warning in the region of Bayannur won’t be terminated until the end of 2020. "At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly,” a statement from the local health authority stated.

According to WHO, bubonic plague “is the most common form of plague and is caused by the bite of an infected flea. Plague bacillus, Y. pestis, enters at the bite and travels through the lymphatic system to the nearest lymph node where it replicates itself. The lymph node then becomes inflamed, tense and painful, and is called a ‘bubo’. At advanced stages of the infection, the inflamed lymph nodes can turn into open sores filled with pus. Human to human transmission of bubonic plague is rare. Bubonic plague can advance and spread to the lungs, which is the more severe type of plague called pneumonic plague”.

The news of bubonic plague comes days after Chinese researchers issued a warning after identifying a swine influenza virus prevalent in China that has the potential for pandemic spread in humans. The researchers said that measures to control this virus in pigs and closely monitor human populations must be implemented soon. They have named the virus, G4 EA H1N1.

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“Serological surveillance among occupational exposure population showed that 10.4% (35/338) of swine workers were positive for G4 EA H1N1 virus, especially for participants 18 to 35 years old, who had 20.5% (9/44) seropositive rates, indicating that the predominant G4 EA H1N1 virus has acquired increased human infectivity. Such infectivity greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses,” wrote authors in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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