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Pneumonic Plague Re-emerges in China

Written By David D'Angelo on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | 8/04/2009

China locked down and setup police checkpoints around the village of Ziketan in northwestern Qinghai province where two people died and 10 more were affected by the deadly pneumonic plague, a lung infection that can kill a human in 24 hours if left untreated. The plaque is caused by the same bacteria that causes bubonic plague — the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages.

The World Health Organization and China are now cooperating in order to monitor and resolve the situation. Team of experts on the disease were sent in the area in order to stop the disease from spreading further in China.

"This form of pneumonic plague is probably the least common but the most severe," said WHO's spokeswoman in China, Vivian Tan. "It has a very high fatality rate and generally spreads quite easily. So we're certainly concerned about the situation."

According to WHO, pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, capable of killing humans within 24 hours of infection. It is spread through the air and can be passed from person to person through coughing.

The Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says people infected must be given antibiotics within 24 hours of first showing symptoms, while people who have had direct contact with those infected can protect themselves by taking antibiotics for seven days.



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