Bubonic plague leaves victims vomiting BLOOD as 11 patients killed in Black Death outbreak
AN OUTBREAK of bubonic plague has left victims vomiting blood as 11 die in a worrying Black Death surge in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At least 15 cases of the devastating disease have reportedly been recorded in the Ituri Province, in the northeast of the country.
And the province's health department has recorded 11 deaths from April 23 to May 8.
According to the Express, Dr Louis Tshulo, the director of Ituri’s Provincial Health Department, said: "The victims show symptoms of headache, fever, cough and vomiting blood.
"The report shows 15 cases including 11 deaths so far. The first case was that of a lady who had died in the Fataki health zone in the Bukachele health zone.
"A week later, on April 30, a 30-year-old man also died after showing the same symptoms.
"On May 8, there was another man who died."
The country has also battled an Ebola epidemic in recent years.
The bubonic plague, known as the "Black Death" in the Middle Ages, is a highly infectious – and often fatal disease – that is spread mostly by rodents.
Tshulo added: "We were alerted when there were already five deaths in this health area in the same family.
"Afterwards, there were two people who had gone to the burial place in Bukachele who, on their return, became ill and died in Bule."
On May 19, health teams recorded four more deaths – two in Bukachele and two in Bule, including a traditional medicine practitioner who had treated other victims before falling ill.
Four people with similar symptoms are currently being treated in health facilities, including two in Bule and two in Bukachele, Tshulo said.
People living in Fataki and Djugu have been urged to wear masks, observe social distancing, and avoid the handling of corpses, according to the Express.
Bubonic plague has been reported in Ituri since last year, with 461 cases and 31 deaths recorded in eight health zones, the Independent reports.
WHAT IS BUBONIC PLAGUE?
Here are the key facts…
- Plague has a remarkable place in history and has had enormous effects on the development of modern civilisation.
- Some scholars have even suggested that the collapse of the Roman Empire may be linked to the spread of plague by Roman soldiers returning home from battle in the Persian Gulf in 165 AD.
- For centuries, plague represented disaster for people living in Asia, Africa and Europe and because the cause of plague was unknown, plague outbreaks contributed to massive panic in cities and countries where it appeared.
- Numerous references in art, literature and monuments attest to the horrors and devastation of past plague epidemics.
- We now know that plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis that often infects small rodents (like rats, mice, and squirrels) and is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected flea.
- In the past, black rats were the most commonly infected animals and hungry rat fleas would jump from their recently-dead rat hosts to humans, looking for a blood meal.
- Pneumonic plague, a particular form of plague infection, is instead transmitted through infected droplets in a sick person’s cough.
- Together, the Pneumonic and Bubonic plague killed an estimated 200 million people in the 14th Century.
(Source: US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)
The World Health Organisation describes bubonic plague symptoms as "flu-like", with one to seven days between incubation and the symptoms emerging.
Sufferers are likely to have painful lymph nodes, chills, fever, headaches, weakness and fatigue.
In bubonic sufferers, these inflamed lymph nodes may end up turning into pus-filled open sores.
Bubonic plague is fatal in 30-60 percent of cases, while the pneumonic kind is always fatal, if left untreated.
It is spread through the bite of infected fleas, whereas pneumonic plague, the most contagious form, develops after a bubonic infection.
Lung-based pneumonic plague can then sometimes be transmitted through the air between sufferers.
Following a pneumonic or bubonic infection, people can then develop septicaemic plague, which occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream.
Bubonic plague was known as the Black Death in medieval Europe, where an outbreak brought entire civilisations to their knees and decimated the world's population.
Lacking the medical knowledge to understand the pandemic, some groups blamed Jews and lepers for the outbreak – resulting in mass killings throughout Europe.
It took around 300 years for global populations to return to pre-plague levels after the outbreak.
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