The Franklin Files

Members Login
    Remember Me  
Post Info TOPIC: Pneumonic plague reported in remote western China

Senior Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 446
Pneumonic plague reported in remote western China

Pneumonic plague reported in remote western China

Three deaths and several illnesses are attributed to the disease. Health officials close access to Ziketan, a town of 10,000 in Qinghai province that is mostly populated by Tibetans.

By Barbara Demick and Joshua Frank August 04, 2009

Reporting from Beijing — Chinese health officials have cordoned off a remote western town after three deaths caused by the rare but deadly pneumonic plague.

The victims all lived in Ziketan, a town of 10,000 in Qinghai province that is mostly populated by Tibetans.

The first victim was a 32-year-old herdsman who died Thursday, four days after falling ill with a fever and cough. State radio reported that the man contracted the illness from his dog, which apparently was infected after being bitten by a flea. The herdsman's 37-year-old neighbor died Sunday and a 64-year-old man died today.

Another nine people were reported to be ill or under observation, one of them in critical condition, at the Tibetan Hospital of Xinghai county.

"Experts continue to carry out disinfecting and pest control work and are tracing people in contact with victims for quarantine purposes," the New China News Agency reported today.

Pneumonic plague is the even deadlier relative of the notorious bubonic plague, which killed millions in Europe in the Middle Ages. Spread person to person through the air, it usually kills all its victims unless they are treated with antibiotics.

In recent years, there have been sporadic outbreaks of the pneumonic plague, most of them in Africa. The few cases in China have been mostly in Tibetan areas in the west.

"In the 1980s, there were a series of plagues in Tibet, but recently not so many," said Tseten Dargye, a physician in Dawu, another Tibetan town in Qinghai province. He said the disease was spread by ticks living on marmots, which are indigenous to the mountainous Tibetan region.

Zhang Changmin, a driver from Qinghai, said that all roads in and out of Ziketan had been closed off since last week to prevent the spread of the disease.

So far the disease does not appear to be causing the panic brought on by the far less deadly swine flu, the threat of which has prompted Chinese authorities to put thousands of people into quarantine, among them U.S. tourists.

Vivian Tan, spokeswoman for the World Health Organization in China, said today that Ziketan's remote location and the low population density reduces the threat of the disease spreading.

"At this point I don't think there's a reason to be alarmed," she said. "Authorities seem to have taken the right measures."

According to Tan, this is the first time the Chinese government has officially notified the WHO of cases of pneumonic plague. But she noted there have been sporadic reports of the disease in the country before.

There had been two other cases in Qinghai in recent years, once in 2001 and again in 2004. Last year, pneumonic plague killed a couple in Tibet, according to the Ministry of Health.

[link to]

Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard