Chinese man, 55, contracts bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit in Inner Mongolia

Alice Yan

A man from Inner Mongolia has been diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating a wild rabbit, the local health authority said on Sunday, less than a week after two other people from the region were reported to have contracted the pneumonic form of the disease.

The latest casualty is a 55-year-old from Xilingol league in the north China region, who is being treated at a hospital in Huade county, the health commission said.

The man, who was not named, caught and ate the rabbit on November 5 and appeared unaffected for more than a week. However, on Saturday he fell ill with a fever and went to the hospital for help, the statement said.

After being diagnosed with the infectious disease, 28 people with whom he had been in close contact were put into quarantine, it said.

However, the statement said the case was not linked to the two people from remote villages in Inner Mongolia who were diagnosed with pneumonic plague earlier in the month and are being treated in Beijing.

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The Beijing Health Commission said on Saturday that one of the patients was now in a stable condition, while the second was in a more serious state despite having earlier shown signs of recovery.

Several of the people with whom they had been in close contact and had been quarantined had since been released from hospital after showing no signs of the disease, the authority said.

Although plague has been mostly eradicated in China, cases are occasionally reported in northern parts of the country. According to official yearbooks there have been six fatalities from the disease in the past five years.

Plague, which comes in three strains – bubonic, pneumonic and septicaemic – is categorised as the most serious contagious disease in China due to its high infection and mortality rates.

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