Chinese city in the country’s Inner Mongolia region on Saturday reported its first suspected case of bubonic plague or ‘Black Death’. As the health officials found a suspected bubonic plague case from Bayan Nur City, an alert was sounded.

The alert forbids the hunting and eating of animals that could carry plague. The officials have asked people to report any suspected cases of plague or fever, and to report any sick or dead marmots.

The suspected case is a 27-year-old resident who reportedly ate marmot meat. A Chinese news agency has, however, reported two cases of bubonic plague.

The bubonic plague first appeared in the 14th century in Central Asia and claimed millions of lives as it spread through the countries. Bubonic plague is also known as ‘Black Death’ and now it is back in the news.


Bubonic plague is a form of a plague that a person can contract after being bitten by infected fleas. People can contract the plague if they are bitten by infected fleas or via direct contamination by an infected rodent.

Bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and leaves swollen lymph nodes close to the areas on the body where the bacteria has entered the skin. Swelling, pain, and suppuration (puss formation) of the lymph nodes or “bubo” produce the characteristic plague buboes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the inflamed lymph nodes or “bubos” can burst open and turn into open sores filled with puss. Some cases have also reported deeper nodes.

There are no reports of human to human transmission of bubonic plague. To prevent bubonic plague, people are generally advised to not touch dead animals and wear insect or fleas repellent in case of an outbreak.

The onset of the bubonic plague is characterised by symptoms such as headache, chills, fever, malaise and pain generally around the affected areas on the body. The first symptoms may appear 2 to 6 days after a person contacts the plague.

Bubonic plague develops into a pneumonic plague when bacteria enter the lungs. Bubonic plague has a mortality rate of 30 per cent to 60 per cent.


According to the WHO, a vaccine for the bubonic plague is available for individuals with high exposure to the plague.


According to WHO, Malawi reported nine suspected cases of bubonic plague in 1994, of which four were confirmed. In 1994, it appeared in Mutarara district of the Tete Province, Mozambique. The epidemic of the plague continued from August to October. There were 216 cases and three deaths.

In Kenya, bubonic cases, mainly in women and children, were reported. About 393 cases, 10 deaths were recorded from September 1978 to March 1979. Libya registered eight cases of bubonic plague in September 1984.

WHO says there were 3248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths, from 2010 to 2015.