TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese officials confirmed on Tuesday evening (Nov. 12) that two patients in Inner Mongolia have been diagnosed with pneumonic plague, instilling fear among Chinese citizens of an outbreak of the disease behind the infamous Black Death.
The Chaoyang District People's Government of Beijing City on Tuesday announced that two residents of Sonid Left Banner, Xilingol League in Inner Mongolia were diagnosed with pneumonic plague by experts. The two patients are currently receiving "proper treatment" in Beijing's Chaoyang District, where infection prevention and control measures have been put in place, reported China's state-run mouthpiece Xinhua.
Earlier that day, the two patients had been admitted to the emergency department of the Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing with low blood pressure. After blood samples were taken, they tested positive for pneumonic plague by noon, reported eeo.
At the early stages, the disease cannot be easily transmitted from human to human. However, in this case, the infection had already spread to the patients' lungs, making them much more contagious, reported Caixin.
Chaoyang Hospital officials told local reporters that since their diagnosis, the two patients have been transferred to an unnamed hospital that specializes in the treatment of infectious diseases. When an eeo reporter contacted a representative of the Chaoyang Hospital, he was told, "There is no need to panic. Everything is under control."
When the reporter asked if "Everything is under control" meant that the two patients are out of danger, the spokesperson said, "The patients are no longer at the Chaoyang Hospital and have been transferred to another hospital. For specifics on the situation, please wait for notice from officials." The representative then "hung up the phone," according to an eeo report, which has since been taken offline.
Yersinia pestis is the bacterium that causes plague and was responsible for some of the worst epidemics in human history, including the Plague of Justinian, the Black Death, the Great Plague of London, and the Third Pandemic. The plague can take three main forms, including septicemic, bubonic, and pneumonic plagues, the latter of which was detected in the two patients in Beijing.
Plague is a Class A infectious disease in China, as the mortality rate for untreated septic plague and pneumonic plague can range from 30 to 100 percent with a short incubation period of one to six days. After the news broke, it shocked many Chinese netizens, and word spread rapidly throughout the Chinese online community.