As if one plague caused by a yet to be fully known virus was not enough, a classic plague that already changed human history once has returned in China. Chinese state media reported that a suspected patient of the bubonic plague has been identified in its province of Inner Mongolia.
The bubonic plague is the disease that caused the so-called Black Death, which wiped through Eurasia. It is widely considered as the first global pandemic that caused a paradigm shift that dismantled dogmatic religious belief that is representative of the Middle Ages.
The suspected patient was first identified by Saturday in a city in the Inner Mongolia region. By the next day, the local government issued a Level 3 warning – the second highest alert level. Xinhua reports that the alert is likely to continue throughout this year.
Although science and virology has increased exponentially since the Middle Ages, the plague did claim up to 50 million lives. It is transmitted to humans by fleas and animals that are infected the virus.
The symptoms of the plague include fever, chills, coughing and most importantly swollen throats because of infections in the lymph nodes.
Local health officials have urged the residents to minimize the chances of transmitting the virus to each other, and also asked that people refrain from getting in close contact with animals. This includes hunting and eating different animals that may carry the virus.
In the same way that bats and pangolins have been suspected to spread Covid-19 to humans, officials believe that marmots are the host that is spreading the virus in the region. Consumption of these local rodents have previously been identified as the cause for the plague.
The hunting and consumption of marmots is widely understood as the cause behind the 1911 pneumonic plague pandemic. It is a different strand of the plague but the method of transmit is the same. The pandemic 100 years ago claimed the lives of some 60,000 people.
In neighboring Mongolia, two patients tested positive for the bubonic plague last week after consuming these squirrel like rodents.
While the discovery of antibiotics drastically decreased the danger of the plague virus, the World Health Organization warned that the deadly virus was making a comeback in the 21st century.
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