Along with the fear of a second wave of coronavirus cases looming in the horizon, China is keeping a wary eye on a possible outbreak of an old sickness, the bubonic plague, a disease that infected humanity in the Middle Ages.
After the discharge of China’s last COVID-19 patient on June 9, China thought that would be it. However on June 10, new cases of Coronavirus disease were reported in Beijing. This compelled the country to establish yet again the health protocols and safety measures that were imposed at the height of the pandemic. Fortunately, it seemed to have been handled well so far, and sources say that the patients are recovering.
Sunday, June 5th, the local health commission diagnosed a Chinese herdsman from Inner Mongolia with pneumonic plague. This makes it the first case of human infection of the bubonic plague in 2020. As it turns out, this wasn’t the first recorded case of the disease. Two confirmed cases were reported way back November 2019. The disease, albeit curable, still sparked worry among the government and the citizens.
After the alert, Chinese authorities raised alert level number 3 out of 4, and declared a ban on rodent slaughter and transport since these animals are potential carriers of the bacteria. The center for disease control in the region suspects that the disease is now locally active and acknowledges the risk of human to human transmission. The World Health Organization deemed the case to be low-risk but still maintained constant communication and monitoring with local health officials. The safety measures are to be imposed for the rest of the year until an indefinite month in 2021.
The bubonic plague, otherwise known as The Black Death, is one of the most tragic epidemics to circulate the earth. It struck in the early to mid 1300’s, with an approximately 200 million death toll across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This disease originates from the Yersinia pestis bacterium that resides in rodents and transmitted by fleas. When a human is infected, it is named the pneumonic plague, which manifests as inflammation in some parts of the body, growing as large as an apple or an egg, followed by pneumonia-like and/or flu-like symptoms along with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Another possibility of a disease outbreak was investigated by a group of researchers, discovering a form of swine flu that infected pig farmers. It was said to be a bacterial strain that is derived from the H1N1 virus, and was seen to possess characteristics of a potential pandemic.