Beijing officials in China announced that two people from the Inner Mongolia region of the country have been diagnosed with Bubonic plague
Fleas transmit plague — but the pneumonic plague, the type reported from China this week, can spread from person to person as well.
The medieval disease also known as the Black Death sent shockwaves of worry throughout the country.
According to NPR, “The announcement sent shock waves rippling through China’s northeastern capital as authorities attempted to tamp down fears of an epidemic by censoring Chinese-language news of the hospitalization.”
On Tuesday, Beijing authorities announced a municipal hospital had taken in a married couple from Inner Mongolia, a sparsely populated autonomous region in northwest China, seeking treatment for pneumonic plague. One patient is stable while the other is in critical condition but not deteriorating, according to Beijing’s health commission.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public on Weibo, a Chinese social media site that is the equivalent of Twitter, that chances of a plague outbreak are “extremely low.” The city’s health commission has quarantined the infected patients, provided preventative care for those exposed to the couple and sterilized the relevant medical facilities, the center said.
Mongolia, which borders the autonomous region where the infected Chinese couple lives, reported two fatal cases of bubonic plague just this year, after the patients ate raw marmot, a species of wild rodent that often carry the offending bacterium. In Mongolia, eating marmot is thought to be good for health.