China bubonic plague death: Town of 30,000 placed in quarantine after man dies sparking 'Black Death' outbreak fears

The man contracted the disease from a marmot, state media said

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The Independent Online

An entire Chinese town of 30,000 people has been quarantined off from the rest of the country after a man living in a nearby village died from bubonic plague.

Police have now had the old town of Yumen city in Gansu province sealed off for more than a week, the Xinhua state media agency said, after a patient died in a local hospital.

All movement between the centre of Yumen and the wider suburban area has been banned, with officers manning 10 checkpoints around the sealed-off district.

According to Xinhua, no one inside the city is currently believed to have contracted the plague, though 151 people who may have come into contact with the man have been placed under direct observation.

Investigators said they think the villager was herding in his fields when he killed a marmot - a small rodent - to cut up and feed to his dog.

He suffered a fever and was admitted to hospital in Yumen, but died last Wednesday. Police initiated the process of locking down the city, as well as the man's home village and town and the fields where he had been working.

The cause of death was confirmed as the plague on Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported.

Health officials were quoted in Gansu's local media saying that it appeared the plague had been put under effective control, and that the isolated areas had sufficient stocks of rice, flour and oil to last "for up to one month" if needed.

Bubonic plague is a bacterial infection that wiped out roughly half the population of Europe in the 14th century millions more during an outbreak in China in the 19th century.

It has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the world's most deadly infectious diseases.

Though antibiotic treatments are now available to combat the disease, without them patients can die within 24 hours of infection.

It is spread largely through flea bites and can cause gangrene, seizures and fever.