Authorities in Bayan Nur (Inner Mongolia autonomous region) issued a level three alert (the second-lowest on a four-level system) after a suspected case of bubonic plague was detected at a hospital on Sunday, July 5. The warning came with a ban on hunting and eating of animals capable of carrying the disease. Local authorities also requested that the public report suspected cases or fever symptoms, in addition to any sick or dead marmots.
Four bubonic plague cases were reported in Inner Mongolia in November 2019, with two further cases being detected in Beijing. Between 2009 and 2018, 26 cases of plague were detected in China with 11 associated fatalities. A previous death linked to the plague detected in Yumen (Gansu province) on 2014 led to the quarantine of the town.
Bubonic plague is a zoonotic disease affecting rodents and is most often transmitted from rodents to other animals and humans via flea bites. Without prompt and effective treatment, 50-60 percent of bubonic plague cases are fatal.
Individuals present in the affected areas are advised to take measures to protect themselves against insect bites (insect repellents, long sleeved shirts and pants, etc.) and to maintain strict standards of sanitation (cleanliness to discourage presence of rodents, eliminate rodent habitats outdoors - e.g. brush, rock piles, pet food, etc. - and use flea control products on all pets).
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