China seals off village after bubonic plague death

A village in China has been sealed off after a resident died from bubonic plague, authorities in the country have said.

Daily disinfection of homes has been ordered in Suji Xincun, a tiny settlement in the Inner Mongolia region.

It has not been revealed how the villager came to have contracted the disease, but health officials in the nearby city of Baotou said no one else has yet tested positive for it.

Nine close contacts and 26 secondary contacts of the patient have been quarantined and found negative for the illness, the Baotou Municipal Health Commission revealed in a statement on Thursday.

Damao Banner, the district where the village is located, has also been put on Level 3 alert for plague prevention, the second lowest in a four-level system.

It is the first death — and only the second case — of bubonic plague China has confirmed this year. The previous case was discovered in July in Bayannur, another city in Inner Mongolia. That also lead to the issuing of a Level 3 alert and the closure of several tourist spots.

Plague, caused by bacteria and transmitted through flea bites and infected animals, killed an estimated 50 million people in Europe during the Black Death pandemic in the Middle Ages.

According to the World Health Organisation somewhere between 1,000 to 2,000 people still catch the disease every year.

But antibiotics that can treat most infections if caught early have long reduced the fear factor once associated with the infection.

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