Two People Have Contracted the Plague

Local authorities announced on Tuesday that two people in China are being treated for the plague. The news set off panic in the country, particularly in Beijing, where authorities urged people to take precautions to guard themselves from the disease. Officials said the two people infected are from Inner Mongolia, a relatively remote area. They came to a hospital in Beijing for treatment and were diagnosed with pneumonic plague.

The plague spreads through infected animals and fleas and comes in three types: Bubonic plague that causes swollen lymph nodes, septicemic plague that infects the blood and pneumonic plague that attacks the lungs and is considered the most deadly.

According to Wikipedia, pneumonic plague is extremely deadly if untreated. “Pneumonic plague is more serious and less common than bubonic plague. The total reported number of all types of plague in 2013 was 783. Untreated pneumonic plague has a mortality of nearly 100 percent.”

It is theorized that pneumonic plague is what caused the Black Death in the Middle Ages that killed at least 50 million people around Europe before spreading to Asia and Africa.

This is the second time the plague has been diagnosed in this region. In May, a Mongolian couple died from bubonic plague. They reportedly ate the raw kidney of a marmot, which is believed to be a health remedy by locals.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2010 and 2015 there were 3,248 reported incidents of the plague worldwide and 584 of those resulted in death. Most of them occurred in Africa.

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“Since the 1990s, most human cases have occurred in Africa. The three most endemic countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Peru. In Madagascar cases of bubonic plague are reported nearly every year, during the epidemic season (between September and April),” the WHO reports.

The organization also details the treatment for those infected. “Untreated pneumonic plague can be rapidly fatal, so early diagnosis and treatment is essential for survival and reduction of complications. Antibiotics and supportive therapy are effective against plague if patients are diagnosed in time. Pneumonic plague can be fatal within 18 to 24 hours of disease onset if left untreated, but common antibiotics for enterobacteria (gram negative rods) can effectively cure the disease if they are delivered early,” WHO writes.

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