International News Jul 6, 2020 5:50 PM EST

China reports suspected bubonic plague cases in Inner Mongolia city

Chinese authorities are taking extra precautions after a case of bubonic plague was reported in a city in Western Inner Mongolia.

China reports suspected bubonic plague cases in Inner Mongolia city
Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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Chinese authorities are taking extra precautions after a case of bubonic plague was reported in a city in Western Inner Mongolia, according to BBC News.

State reports say a herdsman from Bayannur is now in quarantine and is in stable condition. Officials are also reportedly looking into a possible second case.

The case was reported in a hospital in Bayannur city on Saturday. Officials are still unsure of how the patient became infected. A 15-year-old is involved in the second suspected case.

A "level three" alert has been put into place for the remainder of the year which bans the eating and hunting of animals that could possibly carry the plague.

Bubonic plague was an incredibly feared disease in the past, though it can be treated with ease nowadays. It is caused by bacterial infection, and has previously resulted in the death of approximately 50 million people during the Black Death, which was one of the most deadly pandemics  in history. The epidemic took place in the 14th century, killing people in Africa, Europe and Asia.

Currently, the bubonic plague can be treated with antibiotics, though if left untreated, has a fatality rate of about 30-60 percent. It was typically spread from animals to humans through fleas.

The plague involved symptoms such as high fever, nausea, chills, weakness and also swollen lymph nodes, called "bubos," where the plague gets its name from.

Though they are rare, bubonic cases do flare-up every so often.

An outbreak killed roughly a fifth of the population in London during the Great Plague of 1665 and over 12 million people died in China and India in the 19th century due to outbreaks.

In 2017, an outbreak took place in Madagascar involving over 300 cases, though under 30 deaths were recorded.

Last year, two people in Mongolia died of the plague after eating raw Marmot meat. Specialists say it’s unlikely that an epidemic will occur as a result of new cases.

"Unlike in the 14th Century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," said Dr Shanti Kappagoda, a Stanford Health Care infectious diseases doctor.

"We know how to prevent it. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics."

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