China Isolates Town After 2 Die of Plague

10,000 quarantined in Tibetan region after outbreak at funeral
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2009 7:15 AM CDT
A monastery in Rekpong, Qinghai province. In another ethnically Tibetan town in Qinghai. Some 10,000 people have been quarantined following an outbreak on pneumonic plague.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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(Newser) – China has quarantined a remote town of 10,000 after two people died of pneumonic plague, one of the world's deadliest diseases. The Times of London reports that the first victim died after burying his dog, and 11 people at the funeral then fell ill, one fatally. Pneumonic plague is caused by the same bacteria as bubonic plague—also known as the Black Death—which wiped out 25 million Europeans during the 1300s.

The outbreak has occurred in Ziketan, a town in an ethnically Tibetan western province. This is not the first time pneumonic plague has appeared there; in 2004, eight villagers died after eating wild marmots, which carry the disease. Police have ringed Ziketan with checkpoints and are not allowing residents to leave. One food seller in Ziketan said that shops are closed and prices for disinfectants have been jacked up.