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A fourth person in northern China has been diagnosed with the plague. Photo: Shutterstock

China reports fourth plague case, as herder is diagnosed with bubonic strain of deadly disease

  • Unidentified victim from Ulanqab in Inner Mongolia treated in isolation but said to be in a stable condition
  • City government says it has sprayed 200 acres of land as part of ‘rat and flea extermination work’

A fourth person in northern China has been diagnosed with the plague this month, officials confirmed, as a flea and rat eradication campaign was carried out by local government.

Authorities in Ulanqab in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region said on Wednesday that a herder who had been diagnosed with bubonic plague was being treated in isolation but was in a stable condition.

Another person was diagnosed with bubonic plague in the region’s Xilin Gol league on November 16, more than 400km (250 miles) away.
Just days earlier two people from Inner Mongolia were moved to Beijing for treatment of the highly contagious pneumonic strain of the plague.

The pneumonic strain can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the “most virulent form” of the disease according to the World Health Organisation, while the bubonic form is less dangerous.

The Ulanqab government said earlier that it had sprayed almost 200 acres of land last week as part of “rat and flea extermination work”.

Authorities in Ulanqab said they had sprayed almost 200 acres of land to exterminate rats and fleas. Photo: Reuters

Ulanqab officials did not disclose the specifics of how the latest patient caught the plague, but said the person had been “active” in a plague-affected location before falling ill.

The plague germ Yersinia pestis can be transmitted to humans from infected rats via fleas.

Though plague is rare in China, several cases have proved deadly in the past few years.

According to China’s National Health Commission, five people died from the disease between 2014 and September of this year.

In 2014, a man in northwest Gansu province died of the plague, prompting 151 people to be quarantined. Police also set up roadblocks to prevent the 30,000 people living in the town where the man died from leaving.

In neighbouring Mongolia, a couple died of the bubonic plague in May after they ate raw marmot meat, another carrier of the plague germ.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Fourth case of bubonic plague confirmed