No need to panic from plague: authorities

By Zhang Han Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/13 16:18:40

Medical researchers cut open rats suspected of carrying bubonic plague in New Orleans,US, in 1914, when one of the last major outbreaks of plague in the country took place. Photo: IC

The national disease control authority said on Wednesday residents in Beijing do not need to fear getting infected with plague after two patients from North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were confirmed with the disease. 

After the two patients were diagnosed as having pneumonic plague on Tuesday, public health organs in Beijing quarantined them and investigated their activities and potential contacts. Related places have been sanitized, and patients with fever are being closely monitored, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday through WeChat. 

The center said there is a low possibility of an epidemic. 

The National Health Commission has dispatched experts to Inner Mongolia to investigate the source of the infection and route of transmission. People who have close contact with them are closely monitored and have taken preventive medicine, newspaper China Health reported.

The emergency department of Chaoyang Hospital returned to normal operations on Wednesday after a temporary shutdown on Tuesday reportedly due to the two patients. 

The routine departments and emergency room are running normally, a hospital employee told the Global Times on Wednesday morning. 

The patients from Xilin Gol League were confirmed on Tuesday to have been infected with pneumonic plague. Prevention and control measures have been taken, the health commission from Xilin Gol League and Beijing's Chaoyang district confirmed, after rumors about the two patients caused panic among some residents in the capital.

The emergency department at Chaoyang Hospital had changed its chairs, and a medical intern at the hospital said they were asked not to go to the emergency department and shorten their stay at the hospital, Caixin Media reported on Tuesday night. 

Mice control team works in Ganzi, Southwest China's Sichuan Province to examine the population of the rodent and test whether they carry plague bacteria in September 2019. Photo: VCG

Plague is characterized by rapid onset, short duration, strong infectivity, high mortality and rapid spread, reminding people of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which caused a global epidemic and took the lives of hundreds of people in China.  

Zhou Zijun, a professor at Peking University's School of Public Health, noted that residents should not be too worried about the disease. 

The two patients reportedly arrived in Beijing last week. Considering the short incubation period, which usually lasts three to five days, if they had caused an epidemic, more cases should have broken out already, Zhou said. 

Pneumonic plague is caused by bacteria, which Zhou noted is less contagious than SARS, which was caused by a virus. 

The disease can be treated with antibiotics, and its rareness means many current antibiotics would be effective, Zhou said.  

Beijing has been monitoring plague for years and found no case of mice carrying yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes plague. 

But the microbe has been found in wild rodents such as marmots in China, with 11 infectious regions in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Northwest China's Qinghai and Gansu provinces and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, among others. 


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