After Coronavirus, Bubonic Plague reported in China; all you need to know about Bubonic Plague

by Shatakshi Gupta

When the world is already suffering from catastrophic Pandemic, a piece of new alarming news came from China. Recently, as per the media reports of China, in a city of northern China, a suspected case of bubonic plague was reported. Soon after, the Bayannur area of  Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region announced a level III warning of plague prevention and control.

On 1st July, the Xinhua news agency said that two suspected cases of bubonic plague are found in Khovd province in western Mongolia. Later, these suspected cases have been confirmed by lab test results. The confirmed cases are a 27-year-old resident and his 17-year-old brother. The reason behind the infection, as per the health officials, was the marmot meat, which was eaten by the two brothers.

What is the bubonic plague?

Bubonic plague is a rare but a serious bacterial infection passed through fleas from rodents, especially flea named Xenopsylla cheopis.

The disease is  zoonotic in nature, which means that it can be transmitted to other animals or humans from the flies. It mainly results from the bite of a flea carrying Xenopsylla cheopis bacteria. In rare cases,  It also transmits through the exposure to the body fluids from a dead plague-infected animal. It is one among the three plagues caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis. The other two are Pneumonic plague and Septicaemic plague.

Also read: Water and Foodborne Infections in India

What are its symptoms?

Bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system which results in the formation of multiple painful and enlarged lymph nodes called Buboes, which can be as large as chicken eggs, in the groin, armpit or neck.

The symptoms include chills, fever, muscle cramps, pain in lymph nodes, gangrene at the extreme body parts and in some cases  hematemesis( vomiting of blood).

Some classes of antibiotic drugs are effective in treating the Plague. Treating a person with these antibiotics reduces the mortality to 10 per cent, which is,  Without treatment, can result in the death of 30% to 60% of the infected persons. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it can kill an adult within 24 hours, if not treated in time.

Past Outbreaks

Bubonic Plague has caused major Pandemics in the world.  First Pandemic occurred in 6the century, which resulted in the death of around 25 million people. In the 14th century, the second time bubonic plague emerged in Asia, Europe and Africa. It killed over 50 million population, around 25% to 60% of the European population. Many say this was the turning point in the history of Europe and it paved the way to the advancement of Europe. The third time, the Plague resurfaced in the mid 19th century and killed around 80 thousand people.  In 1994, a bubonic plague outbreak took place in five Indian states caused an estimated 700 infections  52 deaths and triggered a large interstate migration in India.  Between 2010 and 2015, there have been over 3,200 reported cases of bubonic plague out of which 584 people died.