China Reports a Case of Bubonic Plague Infection, Netizens Call Out Media for Fear-mongering

An average of 2,000 people contract the disease yearly, according to WHO.
by | July 08, 2020

While the entire world is neck-deep in the coronavirus pandemic, China continues to bear wrath of the world on social media. And with the recent news about a suspected case of the bubonic plague in China, racism, hate, and fear-mongering continues.


China’s Inner Mongolia is on high alert

Media reports from July 6 told of one man suspected of contracting the bubonic plague in China. He was immediately treated and is now in stable condition. The authorities in the Bayannur district of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, northwest of Beijing, raised the plague warning on Sunday. The citywide Level 3 warning issued will stay in place until the end of the year.

Authorities also ordered residents to refrain from hunting wild animals and to get immediate treatment if they show signs of fever or infection. After the coronavirus pandemic affected 83,565 people in China and took the lives of 4,634 as of July 7, the government does not want to take any more chances.


The bubonic plague can be treated

The bubonic plague is responsible for causing the deaths of 50 million people in Europe during the Black Death pandemic in the 14th century. In China, a common source of the plague is marmots, which are ground squirrels often hunted for fur and meat. Infected marmot fur product is believed to have caused plague outbreaks in northeast China in 1991, which killed 63,000 people.

The plague of Florence in 1348, as described in Boccaccio’s Decameron. Etching by L. Sabatelli


The bubonic plague is a fatal and viral bacterial infection but modern medicine has found a cure for the disease. Humans contract it when they come in contact and are bitten by animal fleas that carry the bacteria and yes, it can be transmitted from human to human. In China, most of the victims are hunters who have come into contact with infected animals.

The bubonic plague causes painful, swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, and if not immediately treated with antibiotics, it can result in severe lung complications and become what is known as pneumonic plague.

Marmots are large squirrels whose species are found in Asia, Europe, and North America

Back in the Middle Ages, contracting the illness meant death but now, we are equipped with strong antibiotics that can heal those infected. The plague can also be avoided by proper handling and sanitation of meat products.


It isn’t only China suffering from the plague

No, the bubonic plague did not “come back.” It was never eliminated in the first place. According to the World Health Organization, 1,000 to 2,000 people get the plague every year. CNN reports that in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Peru, the bubonic plague is considered an endemic meaning the virus exists there permanently.

Some people took to Twitter to express their ire at media painting the bubonic plague in China as some sort of a reawakening of the disease.

Many people have called out media outlets for ‘fear-mongering’ in the middle of an already stressful time. It’s important to remember that while the disease is fatal, it is also treatable so there’s no need to panic. We’ve got bigger diseases to slay.


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Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.

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