Bubonic Plague Death Sees China Seal Off Inner Mongolian Village

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Bubonic Plague Confirmed in Chinese Inner Mongolia

Authorities in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of northern China, have sealed off a village after a resident died of bubonic plague, an ancient disease responsible for the deadliest pandemic in history.

Health authorities in the city of Baotou received reports of the victim on Sunday, with the death confirmed to have been caused by bubonic plague on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Baotou Municipal Health Commission.

While the origin of the disease remains unknown, authorities have sealed off Suji Xincun village, where the victim resided.

Contact tracing revealed nine close contacts and 26 secondary contacts, all who have been quarantined and all villagers have thus far tested negative for the disease.

The Damao Banner district has been placed under Level 3 alert for plague prevention, the second-lowest under a four-tier system, and will remain at Level 3 until the end of the year, according to the statement.

This is the second case – and first death – of bubonic plague China has confirmed this year, with the previous case also being confirmed in Inner Mongolia.

Grasslands of Inner Mongolia
Grasslands of Inner Mongolia (Photo: China.org.cn).

The previous case was discovered in July in Bayannur, another town in Inner Mongolia, which resulted in another level 3 alert being issued and several tourist sites being closed down.

Bubonic plague is one of three plague types caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. Symptoms include fever, headaches, and vomiting. Swollen and painful lymph nodes occur in the area closest to where the bacteria reach the skin, and these occasionally break open.

Antibiotics have been useful in treating most plague infections, containing the spread of outbreaks around the world and preventing the type of sweeping spread witnessed in medieval Europe.

The bubonic plague has begun to make a comeback, however, with the World Health Organization now categorizing it as a re-emerging disease.

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