In the midst of the second world wide wave of COVID-19, China is facing problems again due to an epidemic.
More than 6,000 people have tested positive for brucellosis, a disease transmitted by an animal bacteria.The government tested 55,725 people in Lanzhou City, the capital of northwest Gansu Province in China. More than 6,000 people received positive results. The outbreak came after the brucellosis-causing bacterium was mishandled and spread from a laboratory to other bio-pharmaceutical companies that produce animal vaccines.
How did the outbreak begin in China?
It seems that the bacterium comes from sheeps, cattles and pigs. The unfortunate incident took place last summer, but only now have the Chinese authorities made this information public. It all started with an expired disinfectant that a public laboratory in Lanzhou used to produce brucellosis vaccines for animals.
The bacteria ended up in the gas emissions of the bio-pharmaceutical plant because the sterilization process was not done correctly. From there, it spread in the nearby Veterinary Research Institute where it infected almost 200 people in December last year, according to CNN.
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease, also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever, can cause symptoms including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue. While these may subside, some symptoms can become chronic or never go away, like arthritis or swelling in certain organs.
The silver lining is that human-to-human transmission seems to be extremely rare. Instead, most infections occur by eating contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria.
History of brucellosis
In China, human brucellosis was first reported in 1905 according to Science Direct. The incidence of brucellosis was quite severe in animals and humans before the 1980s and later declined. From 1990 to 2001, the incidence of animal brucellosis remained unchanged, but the incidence of human brucellosis increased greatly.
Still, there have been a smattering of brucellosis outbreaks around the world in the past few decades; an outbreak in Bosnia infected about 1,000 people in 2008, prompting the culling of sheep and other infected livestock.