Health authorities in Gansu province have confirmed the death of a patient from septicemic plague－a rare disease in China－and strict control and prevention measures are being imposed.
The patient, a herder from Jiuquan's Subei Mongolian autonomous county, died on Tuesday afternoon despite efforts by medical personnel, according to a statement by the Gansu Health and Family Planning Commission on Wednesday. The patient's gender was not disclosed.
Experts said tests had confirmed at 11 pm that the patient died of septicemic plague that evolved from bubonic plague, which was reported as a suspected plague case at 5:30 pm.
Authorities said they had placed 12 people who had close contact with the patient under quarantine, and no abnormalities had been found. The Jiuquan government also imposed quarantine measures at Subei People's Hospital and at the patient's residence in Subei to prevent the spread of the disease, the statement said.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission, China's top health authority, and the Gansu commission sent experts to Subei to guide disease control and prevention, the statement said.
Plague, a virulent microbe that can be transmitted to humans from wild animals, is classed as a Category A infectious disease－meaning extremely dangerous－under Chinese law. The only other disease falling into the category is cholera.
The law requires that authorities adopt strict measures for control and prevention, including immediately reporting suspected cases, keeping infected people under quarantine during treatment and sterilizing the bodies of the deceased and cremating them.
Only one plague case was reported on the Chinese mainland last year, and the person didn't die, according to the national health commission. No cases were reported on the mainland between January and June this year.
Tuesday's case was the first reported in Gansu since 2014, according to the provincial health commission. Three cases were reported in the province that year, and all three people died.
In July, Gansu became the first provincial region in China to adopt strict measures for the control and prevention of plague. Governments at the county level and higher that are in, or near, places prone to the disease were asked to establish institutions to prevent and control the disease.
Plague is communicated through contact between wild animals and humans, or among humans through saliva, according to Jiuquan People's Hospital.
Residents were advised to avoid contact with sick animals that might be infected with the disease－marmots, for example－and told not to eat them.