Caixin, a Chinese newsletter, reports that patients were first treated at Beijing's Chaoyang Hospital, which replaces all chairs in the emergency room after patients arrive. They have since been transferred to another hospital.
Pneumonic plague is the most serious form of the disease according to the World Health Organization and the only one that can spread from person to person by inhalation of breathing droplets. It is sometimes caused by untreated cases of the more common bubonic plague and symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and rapidly developing pneumonia.
But the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday told Beijing residents not to worry about contracting the disease, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement, the agency said authorities are investigating anyone they believe may have been exposed to patients.
Although the center says the likelihood of plague outbreaks is "extraordinarily low," residents relate to social media with concern, the newspaper reported. Some were concerned about what they considered delayed disclosure by health officials. Many scary publications about the disease in Weibo, the country's version of Twitter, have been deleted.
Their fears were allegedly heightened by Li Jifeng, a doctor at Beijing's Chaoyang Hospital, who said on social media that he treated the two patients on November 3, according to the magazine. Wednesday's publication, which remained online for several hours before being deleted, indicated that one of the patients was a man who had difficulty breathing and became feverish 1
0 days before arriving at a Beijing hospital.
He was initially treated by doctors at a facility in Inner Mongolia, but his condition did not improve, Lee wrote. The man's wife also developed symptoms, The Journal reported. Recognizing his concern about the delayed timing of the message, Li writes that "for such infectious diseases, various agencies work extraordinarily to check repeatedly, to investigate, to report, and so on, so that official notices must be accurate and cannot be be sent accidentally ' The plague is caused by Yersinia pestis a bacterium that is commonly found in small mammals and their fleas, according to the WHO. Pneumonic plague is more deadly than bubonic plague, which rarely spreads from person to person. The disease becomes pneumonic once it has spread to the lungs.
Symptoms of pneumonic plague include "fever, headache, weakness and rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, and sometimes bloody or watery mucus," according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If left untreated, pneumonic plague is always fatal.
More than 3200 cases of plague were reported worldwide between 2010 and 2015, and 584 were fatal to whom. The plague, known in the Middle Ages as the Black Death, was responsible for wiping out about 60 percent of Europe's population nearly 700 years ago. By the end of 1800, the disease had killed millions in China and Hong Kong, as well as in nearby port cities.
Antibiotics are essential in reducing the deaths caused by the plague, according to the CDC – although the disease can be fatal even in
Earlier this year, a couple in the westernmost province of Mongolia contracted the plague and died after eating the raw kidney, gall bladder and mummy stomach. Some Mongolians believe that eating raw marmosets is "very beneficial".
Allyson Chiu contributed to this report.