- A Chinese hunter in Mongolia caught the bubonic plague after eating a rabbit he killed.
- A Chinese investigation, reported on by state media Xinhua, determined the man had eaten the rabbit on November 5. Since then, 28 people in close proximity to the infected have been placed under quarantine to prevent the disease from spreading.
- Plague is an infection caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and transmitted by fleas. Plague comes in three variants — bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic.
- The plague, also called “The Black Death” was responsible for around 25 million European deaths during the 14th century.
- The hunter represents the third confirmed case in China in two weeks.
- While Chinese officials have released statements assuring the public that the risk of an outbreak is “extremely low,” some citizens have voiced concern over the legitimacy of those statements.
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Chinese officials confirmed yet another case of bubonic plague originating from a hunter in Inner Mongolia. The announcement marks the third confirmed case in the country in less than two weeks.
The most recent case is that of a 55-year-old man who reportedly contracted the disease after eating a wild rabbit he had killed in Inner Mongolia’s Huade County on November 5, according to an investigation conducted by state media agency Xinhua. Almost immediately, 28 people in close proximity to the infected man were placed under medical quarantine. Those 28 people did not show any plague symptoms, according to the investigation.
Plague is an infection caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and transmitted by fleas. Plague comes in three variants — bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic — depending on its location in the body. Bubonic plague, the variant responsible for nearly 25 million deaths in the 14th century, causes buboes — extremely swollen lymph nodes that bulge under the arms, neck, and groin. Septicemic plague affects the blood and can turn a victim’s skin black, while pneumonic (the most deadly form) attacks the lungs and can lead people to violently cough up blood.
This weekend’s plague diagnosis marks the third reported case in China this month. Last week, a married couple from Inner Mongolia was rushed to a municipal hospital in Beijing seeking emergency care. In that case, both patients had contracted pneumonic plague.
A Chinese investigation, according to Xinhua, did not find any connection between the Beijing pneumonic plague cases and the more recent bubonic plague case.
Concerns fester over official Chinese reporting
While Chinese officials have issued assurances saying the potential for a plague outbreak are “extremely low,” some fear the state may not be releasing all the information they have about the incidents. In a blog post first reported on by NPR, Li Jifeng, a doctor at the hospital where the first two patients were treated, said the Chinese government sat on the information for nine days before finally releasing a statement acknowledging the infected patients. Li’s post, which was first released on the messaging app WeChat, was reportedly removed by Chinese censors not long after it was put up.