A third case of bubonic plague has been reported in China. The latest case was discovered on Sunday after two other plague cases were revealed last week. Plague has killed tens of millions of people around the world with a third of Europe’s population wiped out in the 1300s by the Black Death.
However, Chinese authorities say the recent cases appear unrelated and the disease remains rare.
Last week two patients from Inner Mongolia were quarantined in Beijing suffering from pneumonic plague.
The health commission later diagnosed a 55-year-old man from the same area with bubonic plague.
The man caught the disease by eating wild rabbit meat, authorities reported.
He was quarantined after the diagnosis, along with 28 people who he came into contact with.
The other 28 people have showed no signs or symptoms of the plague.
Between 2010 and 2015 there were 3,248 cases of plague worldwide.
The disease caused to 584 deaths – a fatality rate of 18 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
From 2009 to 2018, China reported 26 cases and 11 deaths.
By comparison, there were 12,082 cases of rabies over the same period, with a fatality rate of 96 percent.
The China Centre for Disease Control said the plague is “an ancient bacterial infection that can be treated clinically with a variety of effective antibiotics” if caught early.
Beijing says climate change is a reason for the increase in rodent populations throughout Inner Mongolia.
A combination of heavier rainfall followed by longer summer droughts has allowed rats to thrive.
Are there still risks of bubonic plague?
China remains concerned about the risk of outbreaks.
This because formerly remote plague-prone rural regions are integrated into the national economy.
The Centre for Disease Control says Yunnan and the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in the far west are particularly vulnerable.
Signs and symptoms of bubonic plague
- Bubonic plague symptoms appear suddenly a few days after exposure to the bacterium.
- Symptoms include:
- General ill feeling (malaise)
- High fever >39 °C (102.2 °F)
- Muscle cramps
- Smooth, painful lymph gland swelling called a bubo, commonly found in the groin, but may occur in the armpits or neck, most often near the site of the initial infection (bite or scratch)
- Pain may occur in the area before the swelling appears
- Gangrene of the extremities such as toes, fingers, lips and tip of the nose