According to Xinhua, the warning will remain in effect until the end of the year.
The plague caused by bacteria and transmitted by flea bites and infected animals is one of the deadliest bacterial infections in human history. An estimated 50 million people were killed in Europe during the Black Death in the Middle Ages.
The bubonic plague, one of the three forms of the plague, causes painful, swollen lymph nodes as well as fever, chills and cough.
Bayannur health officials are now asking people to take additional measures to minimize the risk of human-to-human transmission and to avoid hunting or eating animals that could cause infections.
Bayannur authorities have warned the public to report finds of dead or sick marmots – a type of large ground squirrel that is eaten in some parts of China and neighboring Mongolia and has historically caused epidemic outbreaks in the region.
The groundhog is believed to have caused the 1911 pulmonary plague epidemic, which killed approximately 63,000 people in northeastern China. It was hunted for its fur, which became increasingly popular with international traders. The diseased fur products were traded and transported across the country – and infected thousands.
Why is the plague still a thing?
The advent of antibiotics, which can treat most infections if they are detected early enough, has helped stem puberty outbreaks and prevented the rapid spread of witnesses in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Although modern medicine can treat the plague, it hasn’t completely eliminated it – and it has recently made a comeback, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify it as a recurring disease.
According to the WHO, 1,000 to 2,000 people contract the plague every year. However, this amount is probably an underestimated estimate because it does not take into account unreported cases.
The three most endemic countries – meaning the plague persists there – are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Peru.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report several to several dozen plague cases each year. Two people died of the plague in Colorado in 2015, and eight cases were reported in the state the year before.
There is currently no effective vaccine against the plague, but modern antibiotics can prevent complications and death if given quickly enough. Untreated bubonic plague can turn into pulmonary plague, which causes rapidly developing pneumonia after bacteria have spread to the lungs.