Chinese officials have sealed off large parts of a city after a resident who was bitten by a rodent died of bubonic plague.
The 38-year-old victim from the city of Yumen in Gansu province was infected by a marmot, a wild rodent, last week. Reports suggested the marmot was already dead but he chopped it up and fed it to his dog and began suffering from a fever later that day.
Around 30,000 residents have now been told they cannot leave and police at roadblocks on the perimeter of the city are telling motorists to find alternative routes…
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There are occasional cases of plague right here in North America, also spread by fleas on marmots. The danger comes if it spreads to the lungs and becomes highly contagious pneumonic plague. Even then, it can be treated by antibiotics.
I wonder if the Chinese are over-reacting, or if they are not giving the whole story (wouldn’t be the first time). A single case should not require this type of reaction.
Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within four days.
Bubonic plague—along with the septicemic plague and the pneumonic plague, which are the two other manifestations of Y. pestis—is commonly believed to be the cause of the Black Death that swept through Europe in the 14th century and killed an estimated 25 million people, or 30–60% of the European population.
The plague is also known to spread to the lungs and become the disease known as the pneumonic plague. This form of the disease is highly communicable as the bacteria can be transmitted in droplets emitted when coughing or sneezing.
People potentially infected with the plague need immediate treatment and should be given antibiotics within 24 hours of the first symptoms to prevent death. Other treatments include oxygen, intravenous fluids, and respiratory support. People who have had contact with anyone infected by pneumonic plague are given prophylactic antibiotics. Using the broad-based antibiotic streptomycin has proven to be dramatically successful against the bubonic plague within 12 hours of infection.