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City in China issues a bubonic plague alert

Health officials from a city in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia issued a bubonic plague warning on Sunday after a suspected case of the highly infectious disease known as the “Black Death” was revealed.

The health committee of the city of Bayannur issued a third-level alert, the second-lowest category in a four-level system. The notice requests citizens to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no apparent causes. It forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry the plague. The alert also instructed the public to report any sick or dead marmots. The warning period will be in effect through the end of the year.

“There were four reported cases of plague in Inner Mongolia last November, including two of pneumonic plague, a deadlier variant of plague,” according to the Independent. A Mongolian couple died of the bubonic plague after eating raw marmot kidney.

The bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis, a zoonotic bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines what people experience when they are infected with the bubonic plague:

Patients develop sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). This form is usually the result of an infected flea bite. The bacteria multiply in the lymph node closest to where the bacteria entered the human body. If the patient is not treated with appropriate antibiotics, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body.

During the 14th century, the Black Death caused more than 50 million deaths in Europe. Thanks to antibiotics, the CDC says the mortality rate is approximately 16% these days, far less deadly than in the Middle Ages.

From 2010 to 2015, there were 3,248 bubonic plague cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

From 2009 to 2018, China reported 26 cases and 11 deaths, according to Reuters. The CDC reports that there is an average of seven human plague cases in the U.S. each year.

This comes a week after researchers in China discovered a new type of swine flu that is able to infect humans. The G4 virus is a strain of the H1N1 swine flu that exhibits “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus.”

On Friday, the WHO admitted that China did not inform them of the original COVID-19 outbreak.

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