— The Erimtan Angle —

On 22 July 2014, the news agency Agence France-Presse reports from Beijing that a “Chinese city has been sealed off and 151 people have been placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said. The 30,000 residents of Yumen, in the north-western province of Gansu, are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on the perimeter of the city are telling motorists to find alternative routes, China Central Television (CCTV) said. A 38-year-old man died last Wednesday [ 16 July 2014] , the report said, after he had been in contact with a dead marmot, a small furry animal related to the squirrel. No further plague cases have been reported. CCTV said officials were not allowing anyone to leave. The China Daily newspaper said four quarantine sectors had been set up in the city”. [1]

The AFP report explains that the “Bubonic plague is a bacterial infection best known for the Black Death, a virulent epidemic that killed tens of millions of people in 14th-century Europe. Primarily an animal illness, it is extremely rare in humans. The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) says modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague, but that without prompt treatment the disease can cause serious illness or death”.[2] Dr. Paul S. Meade, MD, who specialises in Anatomic & Clinical Pathology, states that the “Plague (Bubonic, Pneumonic, Septicemic)” is transmitted “[u]sually through the bite of infected rodent fleas. Less common exposures include handling infected animal tissues (hunters, wildlife personnel), inhalation of infectious droplets from cats or dogs with plague, and rarely, contact with a pneumonic plague patient . . . [and that the disease is e]ndemic in rural areas in central and southern Africa, central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the northeastern part of South America, and parts of the southwestern United States”.[3] In other words, these Chinese whispers represent nothing but a storm in a tea cup and much ado about nothing . . .


[1] “Chinese city sealed off after bubonic plague death”AFP (22 July 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/22/chinese-city-yumen-sealed-bubonic-plague-death.

[2] “Chinese city sealed off after bubonic plague death”.

[3] Paul S. Meade, “Plague (Bubonic, Pneumonic, Septicemic)” CDC. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/plague-bubonic-pneumonic-septicemic.


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