WHO alerts Bangladesh over China plague
World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Bangladesh and other South East Asian countries about the pneumonic plague that had recently hit China.
As it is a public health emergency of international concern and China is not far from Bangladesh, WHO warned Bangladesh to take cautionary steps to control the spread of pneumonic plague, said the government officials.
WHO, in a letter to the health ministry, suggested building capacity in the sea ports as the infected rodents might enter into the country through imported items.
The most recent outbreak of the disease in China began in August this year in Ziketan Town located in Qinghai Province. The town was sealed off and three people have died so far as a result of the disease.
Rodents and fleas are the reservoirs of pneumonic plague and from the infected rodents and fleas the disease spreads to human.
Pneumonic plague is spread through the air and can be passed from person to person through coughing, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is triggered by the same bacteria as bubonic plague, which killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages.
"The pneumonic plague is a bacterial disease and more contagious than bubonic (which infects the glands) plague. It soon turns into epidemic form if starts to spread from human to human," said Director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
It is one of the three main forms of plague and its incubation period is one to seven days, he added.
Primary pneumonic plague results from inhalation of fine infective droplets and can be transmitted from human to human without involvement of fleas or animals. Untreated pneumonic plague has a very high fatality rate, the experts said.
"It is caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis. The difference between the versions of plague is simply the location of the infection. Pneumonic plague is an infection in the lung, " said Prof Nazrul Islam, department of Virology of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
The most apparent symptom of pneumonic plague is coughing. With pneumonic plague, the first signs of illness are fever, headache, weakness, and rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery sputum, he added.
According to the Wikipedia, since 2001 WHO has reported six plague outbreaks. Between 1998 and 2008, nearly 24,000 cases were reported, including about 2,000 deaths, in Africa, Asia, America and Eastern Europe. The vast majority of the world's cases (98%) are in Africa.