China Sees Second Plague Death, 10 000 Residents Shut offWorld | August 3, 2009, Monday // 17:02| views
Photo by uvamagazine.org
A second man has died of pneumonic plague in a remote part of north-west China where a town of more than 10 000 people has been sealed off.
The 37-year-old victim was a neighbour of the first person to die from the plague, a herdsman aged 32 in Ziketan in Xinghai in Qinghai Province, the BBC reported.
The sparsely populated area is mostly inhabited by Tibetans.
Pneumonic plague, which attacks the lungs, can spread from person to person or from animals to people.
A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, Vivian Tan, said an outbreak such as this was always a concern, but praised the Chinese for reacting quickly and for getting the situation under control.
To prevent the plague spreading, the authorities have sealed off Ziketan, which has some 10 000 residents. No-one is being allowed to leave the area, and the authorities are trying to track down people who had contact with the men who died.
One Chinese media report said this was the third outbreak of the disease in Qinghai within the last 10 years.
According to the WHO, pneumonic plague is the most virulent and least common form of plague.
It is caused by the same bacteria that occur in bubonic plague - the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages.
But while bubonic plague is usually transmitted by flea bites and can be treated with antibiotics, pneumonic plague is easier to contract and if untreated, has a very high case-fatality ratio.
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