Thousands of people in northwest China have tested positive for brucellosis, a disease that commonly infects livestock, after a pharmaceutical factory accidentally dumped bacteria into the air last year, officials say.
At least 3,245 people have contracted the disease in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, according to a statement by the city health commission . No deaths have been reported since the problem was first identified last November.
The latest numbers are much higher than initially thought, reports the Global Times .
Authorities traced the leak to the Zhongmu Lanzhou organic pharmaceutical factory, where it was discovered that it was using expired disinfectants. The factory accidentally dumped an aerosolized version of Brucella, the bacterium that causes brucellosis, into the air last summer, causing it to spread to the surrounding area through the wind.
Brucellosis, also known as Malta or Mediterranean fever, is a bacterial disease typically found in cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, and dogs, according to the World Health Organization . It has also been found in humans, but it is extremely rare to see human-to-human transmission.
The disease causes flu-like symptoms including fever, weakness, weight loss, and malaise, the WHO says. It can also cause long-lasting problems like arthritis and swelling in some organs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .
The pharmaceutical factory was producing animal vaccines against brucellosis when the spill occurred in July and August last year, the Lanzhou Health Commission said.
The first infections were reported at the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute in November and December, reports the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency .
Chinese authorities punished the pharmaceutical company by revoking the permit to produce various drugs.
Brucellosis can be treated with a multi-week course of antibiotics, according to the WHO.
The disease was fairly common in China until the 1980s, when vaccines and antibiotics helped the country curb it. However, occasional outbreaks have been known to wreak havoc with livestock around the world.
On a national level, brucellosis is still present today, even if most of the provinces of northern and central Italy have acquired the status of "officially free territory", and the disease persists mainly in the regions of southern Italy and Sicily.
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on DataBase Italia at the URL https://www.databaseitalia.it/fuga-batteriologica-in-cina-migliaia-si-ammalano-di-brucellosi/ on Sat, 19 Sep 2020 06:46:40 +0000.