Reports about new bubonic plague case in China are misleading

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Claim: News headlines portray bubonic plague case in China as a novel occurrence

Fact: Cases of the bubonic plague are reported worldwide every year. The disease is curable in most cases.

A number of western international media outlets such as CNN, BBC and the New York Times reported over the weekend that a case of the bubonic plague was confirmed in a city in inner Mongolia. The news was also posted by a Pakistani media company, Brandsynario. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, these reports caused a wave of panic amongst people due to fear of another disease outbreak.

While this news is true, it has been reported without context and fears regarding another disease outbreak are unwarranted. According to the CDC, between 1,000 and 2,000 cases of the bubonic plague are reported to the World Health Organization each year, most of which are in Africa, India, and Peru. The annual number of cases reported from the United States is 6 to 7.

Furthermore, the bubonic plague does not pose the same level of threat as it did in the 1300s when Europe saw a deadly epidemic that wiped out 20 million, approximately one-third of its total population at the time. Fortunately, according to The Healthline, the plague is now curable in most cases and can be successfully treated with antibiotics. The CDC says that its treatment has lowered mortality rates to approximately 11 per cent.

Summary: Headlines that imply that the cases of the bubonic plague in China are a novel occurrence are misleading. The plague is now curable in most cases and around 1000 – 2000 cases are reported worldwide.

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