WHO Confirms Emergence of Cases Of Deadly Pneumonic Plague In Beijing During The Last 96 hours
BREAKING NEWS: WHO and China
authorities have confirmed that two people in Beijing have been diagnosed with the pneumonic plague
, a rare instance of the highly-contagious disease
that is fatal if left untreated. The two individuals were being treated at a central hospital in China's capital city, home to over 27 million inhabitants. Many suspect that there are more individuals affected and that local authorities are trying to withhold information.
Typically, pneumonic plague
can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the "most virulent form of plague," according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the bubonic form is less dangerous. It is highly contagious.
The infected patients are from the northwestern Inner Mongolia province, district officials said in an online statement, adding that the "relevant prevention and control measures have been implemented."
government did not respond to media calls for comment, but the WHO confirmed that Chinese authorities had notified them about the plague cases.
Fabio Scano, coordinator at WHO China
told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, "The (Chinese) National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases, and increasing surveillance. The risk of transmission of the pulmonary plague is for close contacts and we understand that these are being screened and managed."
The WHO website, warns that the lung-based pneumonic plague
is very contagious and "can trigger severe epidemics through person-to-person contact via droplets in the air."
Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, nausea and cough. They typically start about three to seven days after exposure. It is one of three forms of plague the other two being septicemia plague and bubonic plague.
The Chinese authorities were censoring all news on the media and also social media platforms. On Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform, Chinese censors scrubbed the hashtag "Beijing confirms it is treating plague cases" as they tried to control discussions and panic around the disease.
Many are asking how did these infected individuals come to Beijing, by what mode of transportation ie by train, plane, bus as they or their loved ones might be infected.
One social media user posted: "Bird flu in the year of the rooster...swine fever in the year of the pig. Next year is the year of the rat...the plague is coming."
The plague germ Yersinia pestis can be transmitted to humans from infected rats via fleas.
In a previous outbreak that was contained in 2014, a man died of the plague in northwestern Gansu province in China
and sparked the quarantine of 151 people. The 30,000 people living in Yumen, the town where the man died, were also prevented from leaving, with police at roadblocks placed on the town perimeter.
According to China
's National Health Commission, a total of five people have died from the pneumonic plague
between 2014 and September of this year.
Key steps for prevention of pneumonic plague
include eliminating nesting places for rodents around your home, sheds, garages and recreation areas by removing brush, rock piles, trash and excess firewood. Stay away for infected people and also infected areas as the disease is highly contagious and spread thru contact or air-borne.
Foreigners should avoid unnecessary travel to China
and authorities should enforce screening of all arriving Chinese travelers into their countries.