China Town Sealed Off After Pneumonic Plague Kills 3 (Updated)
A town in a Tibetan area in northwest China has been sealed off after one of its residents died from pneumonic plague, the local government said on Sunday.
Ziketan town in Qinghai province was put under collective quarantine Saturday when laboratory tests showed it had been struck by the highly virulent disease, the Qinghai health bureau said in a statement.
A 32-year-old herdsman had died from the plague, while 11 others had been diagnosed with it, according to the statement.
Ziketan, which is located in the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, had enough supplies to get by on its own for the time being, it added, giving no indication of when the quarantine would be lifted.
Update: A second man has reportedly died in the town. See this BBC report.
Update 2 (August 3, 2009): Bloomberg reports on a third death:
Pneumonic plague claimed the life of a third man in northwestern China as global health officials said the disease was unlikely to cause mass fatalities.
A 64-year-old man died in the remote town of Ziketan in Qinghai province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late yesterday, citing local health authorities. The town has been sealed off, and nine people are in quarantine with symptoms, the news service said.
While plague is one of the most deadly infectious diseases, early diagnosis and treatment with generic antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline cuts patients’ mortality rate to less than 15 percent, the World Health Organization said on its Web site. The disease can kill 60 percent of its victims if left unchecked, the Geneva-based United Nations agency said. The agency is monitoring the town, it said.