Suspected Case Of Bubonic Plague Found In China, But This Is Why You Shouldn't Freak Out

Unless you were booked on a marmot-hunting trip to Inner Mongolia, you should be fine.

Chinese authorities in an Inner Mongolian city have issued an alert after a hospital reported a case of suspected bubonic plague, the highly contagious and often deadly disease that killed 60% of Europe’s entire population during an outbreak in the Middle Ages.

In a world in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic this has obviously made headlines around the world but fortunately, it’s not that big a deal.

Outbreaks of bubonic plague, known as the “Black Death” in those history books you read at school, are rare but not unknown in China, which reported 26 cases and 11 deaths between 2009 to 2018.

The disease is spread by animals and causes fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes – it isn’t pleasant at all.

But as is quite obvious, healthcare has improved somewhat since the Middle Ages and anyone catching the disease these days can be expected to make a full recovery providing they can get to hospital pretty sharpish.

Which is why the response of the Chinese authorities is noticeably less alarmist than some headlines and the odd post on social media.

The health committee of the city of Bayan Nur, where the suspected case was identified, issued the third-level alert, the second lowest in a four-level system.

The alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague and asks the public to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes, and to report any sick or dead marmots.

Sunday’s warning follows four reported cases of plague in people from Inner Mongolia in November, including two of pneumonic plague, a deadlier variant of plague.

So unless you were planning on a trip to Bayan Nur in Inner Mongolia to go hunting marmots, you should be OK.


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