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Boydton Wednesday 27 Sep 2023
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Emergence of Bubonic Plague: A Historic Threat Reappears

By BNN Newsroom
Emergence of Bubonic Plague: A Historic Threat Reappears
Emergence of Bubonic Plague: A Historic Threat Reappears

A Revival of a Centuries-Old Scourge

In a world currently grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, another historic health hazard has re-emerged. A suspected case of bubonic plague has been reported in a resident of Zavkhan, a region of Mongolia located near the Russian border. The diagnosis is expected to be confirmed after further laboratory tests. This information was provided by the National Center for Zoonotic Infections.

The bubonic plague, also known as the ‘Black Death,’ wreaked havoc in human history, causing the most fatal pandemic recorded. This infectious disease, primarily spread by fleas living on wild rodents, wiped out an estimated 75-200 million people in Europe in the mid-1300s.

The global community needs to be vigilant about these re-emerging health threats, given the potential health risks they pose. Swift and appropriate actions are necessary to prevent any possible outbreak.

Recent Cases and Precautions

Recently, four suspected cases of bubonic plague were reported in the western Khovd region of Mongolia, linked to the consumption of marmots, a type of large ground squirrel. These cases have prompted local health authorities to issue warnings, advising the public to refrain from hunting and eating animals that could carry the plague. The public is also encouraged to report any sick or dead marmots, along with any suspected cases of plague or unexplained fevers.

While the world focuses on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with more than 11.57 million infected and at least 536,000 dead, the emergence of the plague has raised alarms across nations. Despite the low infection and death toll caused by COVID-19 in Mongolia, the reappearance of the bubonic plague has heightened concerns about a potential outbreak.

An Introspection into Bubonic Plague

The bubonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, a gram-negative, non-motile, rod-shaped, coccobacillus bacterium, with no spores. It is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of infected fleas but can also be spread through direct contact with infected tissues and inhalation of infected respiratory droplets. Bubonic plague is characterized by swollen and painful lymph nodes or “buboes.”

Though bubonic plague can be fatal if untreated, the disease can be treated with antibiotic treatment if detected early. Between 2010 and 2015, more than 3,200 cases were reported worldwide, with 548 deaths. Despite these numbers, health officials have stated that a plague epidemic is unlikely, given our current understanding of the disease and our ability to treat it with effective antibiotics.

Looking Ahead: Preparing for the Unpredictable

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of the bubonic plague serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of infectious diseases. It underlines the importance of global health surveillance and the need for swift and appropriate responses to prevent possible outbreaks.

While it is crucial to remain vigilant, it is also essential to remember that we have come a long way since the 14th Century. Advances in medical science have given us the tools to understand, prevent, and treat such diseases. However, the emergence of the bubonic plague amid the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges we face in the field of global health.

As we move forward, it will be vital to continue monitoring disease patterns, invest in health infrastructure, and foster international cooperation to safeguard global health and prevent potential outbreaks.


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