China Plague Death Toll RisesWorld | August 4, 2009, Tuesday // 11:59| views
Police have set up checkpoints around Ziketan, as medics are disinfecting the area and killing rats and insects. Photo by javno.com
A third man has died of pneumonic plague in north-western China where a town of more than 10 000 people has been sealed off.
The 64-year-old man was a neighbour of the first two people to die from the plague in Ziketan in Qinghai Province, the BBC reported.
Police have set up checkpoints around Ziketan, as medics are disinfecting the area and killing rats and insects.
Pneumonic plague, which attacks the lungs, can spread from person to person or from animals to people.
To prevent the plague spreading, the authorities have sealed off Ziketan. About 10 other people inside the town have so far contracted the disease, according to state media. No-one is being allowed leave the area, and the authorities are trying to track down people who had contact with the men who died.
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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