Black Death back? Chinese authorities confirm positive case of bubonic plague

A case of plague has been confirmed in China’s Inner Mongolia region, leading authorities to issue an alert about the age-old disease, according to news reports.

On Sunday (July 5), a herdsman in Bayannur city, in western Inner Mongolia, was diagnosed with bubonic plague.

Officials in Bayannur city issued a “third-level alert” (the second lowest in a four-level system) for plague prevention.

Plague is perhaps best known for killing millions of people in Europe in the 1300s during a pandemic called the Black Death. The infection, which is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, still occurs today, although it is relatively rare and usually treatable with common antibiotics.

Bubonic plague, which is one of the plague’s three forms, causes painful, swollen lymph nodes, as well as fever, chills, and coughing. The bubonic plague is fatal in about 30 percent to 60 percent of untreated cases, the World Health Organization informed.

The marmot – a type of large ground squirrel – is believed to have caused the 1911 pneumonic plague epidemic, which killed about 63,000 people in northeast China.

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