Two diagnosed with the plague in China

Mar 2012
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Two people in China are being treated for plague, authorities said Tuesday. It's the second time the disease, the same one that caused the Black Death, one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, has been detected in the region -- in May, a Mongolian couple died from bubonic plague after eating the raw kidney of a marmot, a local folk health remedy.

The two recent patients, from the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, were diagnosed with pneumonic plague by doctors in the Chinese capital Beijing, according to state media Xinhua. They are now receiving treatment in Beijing's Chaoyang District, and authorities have implemented preventative control measures.

Pneumonic -- the kind the Chinese patients have -- is more virulent and damaging. Left untreated, it is always fatal, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

There is currently no effective vaccine against plague, but modern antibiotics can prevent complications and death if given quickly enough. However, a strain of bubonic plague with high-level resistance to the antibiotic streptomycin, which is usually the first-line treatment, was seen recently in Madagascar.

Untreated bubonic plague can turn into pneumonic plague, which causes rapidly developing pneumonia, after bacteria spreads to the lungs.

 
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