August 3, 2009

Pneumonic Plague Kills Two Men In China

According to health authorities, thousands of people are under quarantine in a Tibetan town in northwest China after two men died of pneumonic plague and 11 others were confirmed to be infected.

A 32-year-old herdsman in Ziketan in Qinghai province died due to the infection, and his 37-year-old neighbor also passed away on Sunday.

Many of the others infected are relatives of the men and are being held in a hospital, authorities said.

A team of experts has been sent to the town, and no indication has been given as to when the quarantine will be lifted.

Pneumonic plague is spread through the air and can easily be passed from person to person, according to the World Health Organization. 

It is caused by the same bacterium that causes bubonic plague, which is transmitted through insect bites and can be treated with antibiotics.

Pneumonic plague, which is the most virulent and least common form of the plague, kills nearly 100 percent of those who go untreated, often killing them within the first 24 hours.

The health bureau has asked any visitors of the region since July 16 to seek immediate help if they develop a cough or fever.


Image Caption: Pneumonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.