The rarest but most deadly form of plague has emerged in China.
Two people were hospitalized in Beijing after contracting lung disease or pneumonia – a highly contagious and often fatal variant – confirmed the World Health Organization (WHO), Wednesday (13).
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The two patients, who come from Inner Mongolia – northern China – were quarantined after being diagnosed with the disease, according to health officials in the Chaoyang district, east of the Chinese capital.
According to WHO, the Chinese government is trying to hold and handle both cases and increase its vigilance.
A lung outbreak is a disease that attacks humans and other mammals. This is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.
Humans are often infected by biting infected fleas, which live in small mammals such as mice, or by manipulating animals infected with this disease.
The death rate may be high, but antibiotic treatment is effective if given within 24 hours of infection.
According to WHO, there are three forms of bubonic plague: bubonic – the most common, affecting lymph nodes -, septicemia – occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream – and the lungs when it affects the lungs.
Pneumonia outbreaks caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis – Photo: Getty Images / BBC
Bubonic, also called the Black Death, is perhaps the most famous, because in the Middle Ages it caused one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history.
Less commonly, it is the most deadly form of plague. This usually occurs because of spread to the lungs from advanced bubonic infection and is usually transmitted by mice, although it may also be transmitted from one person to another through a simple cough.
If left untreated, pulmonary outbreaks have a mortality rate close to 100%.
Chinese health officials said that all people at risk of the disease were found and treated, and that the hospital intensified monitoring of people with the same symptoms.
They added that the risk of lung outbreaks in this country is minimal.
Outbreaks in China are rare, but many northwestern cities of Yumen were quarantined in 2014 after a 38-year-old died due to the bubonic plague.
Rat populations have increased in Inner Mongolia after persistent drought, exacerbated by climate change.
In neighboring Mongolia, two people died last spring after eating raw groundhog, a food that can carry the Yersinia pestis bacteria.
In Madagascar, a plague in 2017 killed more than 200 people.