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July 18, 2014

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Plague death sparks Gansu epidemic alert

AUTHORITIES in the city of Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, yesterday issued a level III emergency alert in response to the death of a resident from pneumonic plague.

The victim, surnamed Wang but whose gender was not stated, died after contracting the serious lung infection, said a publicity official from the Yumen Health and Family Planning Commission.

Following confirmation of the cause of death, 151 people known to have been in close contact with Wang, who lived in Yumen, were put into isolation pending health checks, the city government said. Yumen is administered by Jiuquan.

The tests failed to find any evidence to suggest any of the people were similarly infected, the government said in a statement on its website.

They have, however, been given medicine as a precautionary measure, the statement said.

As a result of the emergency alert ­— the third-highest in a four-tier system — four quarantine areas have been set up: in Yumen City, Chijin Town, Xihu Village and an unnamed rural area, the government said.

Several roads into and out of Jiuquan have also been closed, including the Lianhuo Expressway that links east Jiangsu Province and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, local traffic police said.

“We don’t know when the road will reopen,” said Meng Guanghui, a police officer who patrols the expressway, adding that drivers have been told to find alternative routes.

The plague that killed Wang is thought to have come from fleas carried by rats. The deadly disease decimated populations across Europe in the 14th century.


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