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Fatal plague in Qinghai brought under control
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-29 00:42

An outbreak of plague in Northwest China that killed eight villagers is reportedly under control.

A total of 19 plague cases were reported across four counties in the central and eastern parts of Qinghai Province between October 4 and 9, said a Ministry of Health spokesman Thursday.

No outbreaks have been detected in other areas, said the spokesman.

Eight people died, while the 11 who survived have all recovered, said a circular issued by the provincial health bureau on Wednesday.

The majority of the infected were farmers and herdsmen who caught the disease after killing or eating wild marmots, says the circular.

However, the cause of several cases in Nangqen County is still under investigation.

The counties of Ulan, Huangyuan and Madoi have lifted medical quarantine. And Nangqen is expected to come out of isolation soon, says the circular.

After the outbreak, the Ministry of Health sent a work team to the affected areas to offer medical guidance, said the spokesman.

The Qinghai Provincial Health Bureau also took a series of measures to distribute medicine and curb the spread of the disease, and strengthen the supervision on the marmot market.

Marmots are related to gophers and prairie dogs. They usually live in the grasslands of China's northwestern regions and Mongolia, where villagers often hunt them for meat.

Late in August, the Ministry of Health reported two plague cases in Qinghai and its neighbouring Gansu Province. One person died.

Plague is a somewhat general term that applies to a number of contagious often fatal bacterial diseases transmitted by fleas from infected rats and by contact with infected blood or tissue.

The most common form, bubonic plague, can cause high fever, delirium and swollen lymph nodes.

The ministry spokesman said some grassroots medical workers do not have a full awareness of the importance of plague prevention and control and some plague cases were not found and reported in time.

He said the ministry has ordered the local health authorities to improve their plague monitoring system and draw up an emergency plan against plague outbreaks.

Cases of rats and marmots dying of plague, suspected plague patients and cases of high-fever without a known reason must all be reported to the ministry in time, said the spokesman.

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