Another outbreak in China; 6000 people infected by Brucellosis bacteria

In what comes as another 'single outbreak' in northwestern China, more than 6,000 people have been reportedly infected by Brucellosis, a bacterial disease with flu-like symptoms.

According to news agencies reporting the incident on Friday (November 6), the 'Ground Zero' of the outbreak this time is Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province. The outbreak was a result of a leak at a vaccine plant, agencies reported citing Lanzhou's health commission.

What is brucellosis?

Brucellosis is a highly contagious zoonotic disease passed on from infected animals, or close contact with their secretions. It is also known as undulant fever, Malta fever, and Mediterranean fever.

Usually caused by a bacteria in contact with sheep, goats, cattle, swine and even dogs, the disease had earlier also been reported in many countries.

The disease can spread to humans through tainted animal products like unpasteurised milk or cheese, or through the inhalation of airborne agents.

How lethal are we talking?

According to medical experts, the mortality rate among humans is low, however, the disease can leave lasting complications such as chronic joint pain.

The symptom includes those associated with many other febrile diseases, such as fever, weakness, night sweats, and prolonged muscle pain.

In complications recorded in places like Portugal, Israel, Syria, and Jordan, the disease can also result in varied consequences from nausea to liver and spleen inflammation, at which point the disease is called Malta fever.

What happened in Lanzhou?

China's state-owned media network Global Times reported that the bacteria outbreak was first known when more than 181 people at the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute had tested positive for brucellosis.

Later, the outbreak even spread to Heilongjiang province in northeastern China. More than 6,000 people in the city have been infected by the bacteria, the state media reported, adding that the outbreak originated at a biopharmaceutical factory owned by Shanghai-listed China Animal Husbandry Industry Co.

Reports further elaborate on the fact that the industry had used expired disinfectants in July to August 2019 to make brucellosis vaccines, thus leaving the bacteria in the waste gas. It later formed aerosols and the contaminated gas drifted downwind to reach the institute where it started infecting individuals.

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