Two herdsmen of China’s Qinghai province have died due to complications from a recent outbreak of pneumonic plague, reported Bloomberg.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring the town, Ziketan, where the outbreak occurred, as well as the families and those who interacted with the herdsmen. The local health department said that those who developed a fever or cough after visiting the city or its neighboring areas should seek medical treatment.
Vivian Tan, a spokesperson for the WHO said, “The fact that this area is so remote is definitely a good thing because it makes it a little harder than say an urban setting for this disease to spread…. Right now, it seems to be somewhat contained.”
The pneumonic plague, which is primarily found in small rodents and fleas, is the most severe of the three types of plague. The most common, and most well known, is bubonic plague, also known as “Black Death” – which killed millions in Europe in the 14th century, reported Associated Press. Unlike the bubonic plague, which is transmitted through fleas, pneumonic plague can be passed through the air.
Yersinia pestis bacteria infect the lungs of its host and cause pneumonia. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said the symptoms include, fever, headache, weakness and rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath and chest pain. Respiratory shock and death can occur between one to four days. Treatment for the plague requires antibiotics, such as streptomycin and tetracycline.
Pneumonic plague carries a death toll of 60 percent when left untreated, but less than 15 percent of those affected are killed if they’ve been treated. Treatment must be administered within 24 hours.
Ziketan, which has been isolated by a blockade of entering roadways, has a population of 10,000, reported Associated Content.