Vermin hunt as killer plague outbreak hits | Shanghai Daily

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August 3, 2009

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Vermin hunt as killer plague outbreak hits

THOUSANDS have been placed under quarantine in a town in northwest China's Qinghai Province after two people died of pneumonic plague and 10 others were confirmed infected with the deadly lung disease, provincial health authorities said yesterday.

One of the dead, a 32-year-old herdsman, was a resident of Ziketan in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Qinghai, the provincial health department said in a statement posted on its Website on Saturday. It did not say when he died.

The other man died yesterday morning. Xinhua news agency quoted the local government as saying last night that the second victim, Danzin, 37, was a neighbor of the deceased herdsman.

Most of the others infected are relatives of the 32-year-old victim and are in stable condition in a designated hospital, the statement said.

The town of 10,000 people has been placed under quarantine and a team of experts has been sent to the area, it said.

Medical workers have not discovered coughs and fever symptoms in the people under quarantine, it added.

Authorities in the province have started sterilizing the areas where the outbreak was reported and begun work to kill mice and pests including fleas, according to the statement.

Pneumonic plague is spread through the air and can be passed from person to person through coughing, according to the World Health Organization.

It is caused by the same bacteria that occurs in bubonic plague - the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages.

While bubonic plague, which is usually transmitted by flea bite, can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early, pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases.

According to the WHO, people can die within 24 hours of infection.

In September 2008, pneumonic plague killed two people in Nangxian County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibet borders Qinghai.

The Qinghai health department statement warned that anyone who has visited Ziketan and surrounding areas since July 16 and has developed a fever or a cough should seek hospital treatment.

The area has sufficient supplies and the quarantine has not disrupted the basic needs of locals, the release said.

Ziketan covers about 3,000 square kilometers.




 

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