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Dog suspected source of China plague

world Updated: Aug 07, 2009 01:18 IST

AFP
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A dog is suspected to be the origin of an outbreak of pneumonic plague in northwest China that has killed three people and left 10,000 under strict quarantine, state media reported.

Ziketan, a remote town in a Tibetan area of Qinghai province, has been locked down since Saturday in an effort to contain the spread of the highly virulent disease.

One patient was in critical condition and eight others were infected, most of them relatives of the first fatality, a 32-year-old herdsman, or local doctors, Xinhua news agency said.

Initial tests had shown that the herdsman’s dead dog was the likely origin of the outbreak, Xinhua reported, quoting professor Wang Hu, director of the Qinghai disease control bureau.

Wang said it was likely that the dog died after eating a plague-infected marmot and that the man became infected when he was bitten by fleas while burying the dead dog. He died three days later.

The World Health Organization says the bacteria which causes the plague is endemic in some rodents in the region, such as marmots.