Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Plague outbreak in China

If you have been reading or watching the news lately you may have heard about an outbreak of the pneumonic form of Bubonic Plague in Ziketan, China.

The outbreak was first reported on August 1st, and the Chinese government has been much more open about this incident than previous diseases outbreaks (eg SARS).

The town of Ziketan, with more than 10,000 people was sealed off.

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, Vivian Tan, said an outbreak such as this was always a concern, but praised the Chinese for reacting quickly and for getting the situation under control.

Rapid action appears to have helped stop the outbreak in its tracks and there were only three deaths - possibly due to delayed treatment. Today there comes news that the source of the outbreak may have been a marmot. A dog that ate the plague infected marmot died and the first human victim was infected by fleas as he buried the dog.

Although this story is a good example of how rapid action can halt potential disease outbreaks there was a somewhat worrying story in the Times about how some taxi drivers have been earning a small fortune by sneaking residents around roadblocks and out of the cordoned off town.

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