Pneumonic plague: Deadliest form of the highly contagious disease diagnosed in China

Two patients from China's Inner Mongolia province, have been diagnosed with deadly and highly contagious pneumonic plague

Pneumonic plague
Two Chinese nationals have been diagnosed with the deadly pneumonic plague Representational Image

Two cases of the highly contagious pneumonic plague, the deadliest form of the disease, have been diagnosed in China. Both the patients have been admitted and are treated in a hospital in Beijing.

The disease is caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis, and has three kinds-bubonic, that targets the lymph nodes; septicemic, that affects blood and pneumonic, that targets lungs. Its symptoms include fever, chills, vomiting and nausea.

Plague pandemic in the Dark Ages that wiped out generations in Eurasia, from 1347-1351, is attributed to the bubonic kind. The disease, first emerged in Central Asia spread to Asia via the Silk Road, claiming the lives of an estimated 75-200 million people in Europe and Asia. Its pneumonic kind is more virulent and contagious and the fatality ratio is 100 per cent if left untreated. Though it is first transmitted from infected rats to human, via fleas, the pneumonic kind can be transmitted from human-to-human through droplets in the air, unlike the bubonic kind.

The patients diagnosed with the disease in China, belong to the country's Inner Mongolia province, Xinhua reported on Tuesday. The cases have emerged months after a Mongolian couple was diagnosed and later died of bubonic plague, in May this year.

Meanwhile, WHO has confirmed that Chinese authorities have notified it about the cases. Fabio Scano, coordinator at WHO China, said in a statement, "The [Chinese] National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases and increasing surveillance". The same was said by the Chinese authorities that "relevant prevention and control measures have been implemented".

This isn't the first case of the disease reported in China. In 2014, a man died of plague in Gansu province, that sparked the quarantine of 151 people. The authorities also prevented the 30,000 people of Yumen, the town in which the man died, from moving around. According to China's National Health Commission, 5 people have died of plague, from 2014 to September, this year.