Caixin, a Chinese financial news program, reported that the patients were being treated for the first time at the Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing, which replaced all the chairs in its emergency department after the patient's arrival. They have since been transferred to another hospital.
According to the World Health Organization, pulmonary plague is the most severe form of the disease and the only type that can spread from person to person by inhalation of respiratory droplets. It is sometimes caused by untreated cases of more common bubonic plague. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and a rapidly developing pneumonia the disease, according to the Wall Street Journal. A statement from the agency said the authorities were investigating all the individuals they believe have been exposed to the patient.
Although the center said the likelihood of further spread of the plague was "extremely low," residents were worried about social media. the journal reported. Some were concerned about what they considered late disclosure by health officials. Many anxious posts about the disease on Weibo, the country version of Twitter, have been deleted.
Her fears were allegedly exacerbated by Li Jifeng, a doctor from the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, who said on social media that she had treated the two patients on November 3, according to the Journal. The Wednesday post, which remained online for several hours before being erased, showed that one of the patients was a man with respiratory problems and had fever 1
0 days before his arrival at the Beijing hospital.
a facility in Inner Mongolia, but his condition did not improve, wrote dr. Li. The man's wife also developed symptoms, the Journal reported. In recognition of concern over the belated date of the announcement, Dr. Li says, "With such infectious diseases, various authorities work overtime to review, investigate, report, and so on. Therefore, official communications must be accurate and can not be incidental. "
The plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis which according to the WHO are typically found in small mammals and their fleas. The lung plague is more deadly than the bubonic plague, which rarely spreads from person to person. The disease becomes pneumatic as soon as it spreads to the lungs.
Symptoms of pulmonary plague include "fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or aqueous mucus." According to the US Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases.
Left untreated, pneumonic plague is always fatal.
Worldwide, between 2010 and 2015, more than 3,200 cases of the plague were reported, of which 584 were fatal. according to the WHO. The plague, known in the Middle Ages as "black death," wiped out nearly 60 percent of the European population almost 700 years ago. In the late 1800s, the disease killed millions in China and Hong Kong as well as in nearby port cities.
According to the CDC, antibiotics have helped reduce the deaths caused by the plague – although the disease itself may still be fatal with treatment.
Earlier this year, a couple in the westernmost province of Mongolia contracted the plague and died after eating the raw kidney, gallbladder and stomach of a marmot. Some Mongolians believe that eating the uncooked offal of a groundhog is "very good for the health".
Allyson Chiu contributed to this report.