While the world still faces a global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the causative agent for COVID-19, China's Inner Mongolia region now faces yet another threat to public health as suspected cases of the bubonic plague were reported.
According to the Xinhua news agency, the case was initially reported in a city just northwest of Beijing called Bayannur. The report said that municipal authorities were alerted by hospital personnel about a patient showing signs of the disease.
The day after the report, local officials and authorities immediately issued a Level 3 plague prevention warning across the whole city. Based on the news agency, the warning will be in place until the end of 2020.
Caused by the microorganism Yersinia pestis., bubonic plague was the disease that caused the Black Death pandemic which killed millions of people in the 14th century. The said disease is transmitted through bites of fleas and infected animals, it was also considered as one of the most deadly infections caused by bacteria in the history of humans.
Bubonic plague is often characterized by symptoms including swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, coughing, and chills. However, at present, complications brought about by the bubonic plague can be prevented by modern antibiotics as long as it will be administered quickly.
People in Bayannur are now encouraged by health authorities to take extra precautionary measures in order to minimize the risk of the bubonic plague being transmitted from human to human. Moreover, they have also advised against hunting and eating animals that may cause the infection.
In an interview by China Daily, a state-run newspaper, a local health official from Bayannur acknowledge that there is a risk of a plague epidemic that is present in the city. He also advised the public to be vigilant of the situation and immediately report any abnormal health conditions.
Marmots primary suspect on brewing plague epidemic
According to CNN, health authorities in Bayannur have also issued warnings to the public to be on the lookout and immediately report if they find dead or sick marmots. Marmots are a type of large ground squirrels which is typically consumed by people in parts of China and Mongolia. Historically, marmots have caused outbreaks of plague in the region.
Back in 1911, during the pandemic of the pneumonic plague, the marmot was also the primary suspect/ the said plague killed more than 63,000 in northeast China alone. Marmots are typically hunted for their fur and this has also caught the attention of traders internationally.
Despite the fact that the said epidemic was contained in only a year, the plagues caused by the marmot has continued until the present. Last week, the confirmed bubonic plague cases in Mongolia were identified to be brothers who have recently consumed marmot meat.
Moreover, back in May, a Mongolian couple died of the said disease after they ate a marmot's raw kidney since it was believed to be a folk remedy that brings good health.