CHINA has declared a PLAGUE emergency after a three-year-old boy was struck down by the Black Death.
The child, from a remote village in Menghai county, Yunnan, in the south west of the country, was confirmed to be infected by the killer disease yesterday, state media reports.
Chinese authorities in the region have started a level IV emergency response to prevent another epidemic following the Covid-19 outbreak, reported Global Times.
This follows the discovery of three dead disease-ridden rats in a village in Menghai which sparked a national screening programme.
Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease spread by fleas living on wild rodents and can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time.
Also known as the ‘Black Death’, the illness killed up to 200 million people in the 14 century.
Authorities said a severe rat infection has broken out in Yunnan earlier this month.
This comes after a plague outbreak in neighbouring Mongolia which has seen 22 reported cases – six of which have been confirmed.
The latest is a 25-year-old woman who has been hospitalised with the disease after eating an infected rodent called a marmot.
She is held in isolation in Khovd province along with 19 people she contacted.
Another unrelated case in Mongolia’s Khentii province is also being checked, say reports.
Hunting marmots is illegal in Mongolia, but many regard the rodent as a delicacy and ignore the law.
Three of the six confirmed cases have died in Mongolia – most recently a 38-year-old man in Khovsgol province earlier this month.
Seventeen out of all the 21 Mongolian provinces are now at risk of the bubonic plague, the NCZD warned.
Russia has taken major steps to stop a spread of the Black Death across its frontiers with Mongolia and China, as the region also battles against Covid-19.
Tens of thousands of people have been vaccinated in border areas in the Tuva and Altai republics of Siberia.
One outbreak was recorded on the Ukok plateau in Russia – for the first time in more than 60 years.
History of the Black Death
The Black Death was an epidemic of bubonic plague which struck Europe and Asia in the 1300s
It killed more than 20 million people in Europe – almost one third of the continent’s population between 1347-1352.
Advancements in modern medicine mean a similar pandemic is highly unlikely as it can now be easily treated, if caught in time.
Scientists now know that the plague was spread by a bacillus known as yersina pestis.
The bacteria can travel through the air as well as through the bites of infected fleas and rats.
Bubonic plague can cause swelling of the lymph nodes.
If untreated it could spread to the blood and lungs.
Other symptoms included fever, vomiting and chills.
Physicians relied on treatments such as boil-lancing to bathing in vinegar as they tried to treat plague patients.
Some believed the Black Death was a “divine punishment” – a form of retribution for sins against God