Black Death Is Back! Two Cases of Plague Confirmed in China
A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.
This is the second time the disease has been confirmed in the region this year. The first time was in May when a Mongolian couple died from bubonic plague after eating a raw kidney from a marmot. That triggered a six-day quarantine in the area, according to The Guardian.
The two newest cases came from Inner Mongolia, a sparsely populated province in northern China, and were diagnosed in Beijing where the patients are receiving treatment, according to CNN.
The Chinese government has warned citizens to take precautions to protect themselves from a potential outbreak, though it did say that there was no reason to panic and the risk of transmission was extremely low, as the New York Times reported.
The New York Times also reported that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention responded quickly to the cases, quarantined the patients, did an investigation into people who could have been exposed to the bacteria and disinfected all relevant sites. They also ramped up their monitoring of all patients with fevers.
However, South Korea press affiliates have followed rumors on Chinese social media that the Chinese government is downplaying the scope of the disease and many more people are actually exposed and infected, as the UPI reports.
Pneumonic plague, which the two patients in China have, is always fatal if it is not treated quickly with antibiotics, according to CNN.
Plague is caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, which typically takes two to six days after exposure to manifest as an infection. However, in the case of pneumonic plague, which the two new patients have, someone exposed to the bacterium through the air will usually become ill within one to three days, according to the UPI.
Plague has three forms — a lung infection, known as pneumonic plague; a blood infection, known as septicemic plague; and bubonic plague, which attacks the lymph nodes. Bubonic plague is notable for a pandemic that killed an estimated 60 percent of Europe's population in the late middle ages. However, pneumonic plague is far more virulent and deadly than bubonic plague, according to The Guardian.
In the case of bubonic plague, the disease is transmitted when people handle an infected animal or when an infected flea bites people. Pneumonic plague is airborne and can be spread when an infected person coughs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as The Guardian reported.
Despite China's assurance that the risk of exposure is extremely low, fears are mounting that an outbreak of the pandemic will take root and residents are wondering why it took the authorities so long to announce the diagnosis, according to The New York Times.
Li Jifeng, a doctor at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital where the two patients are receiving treatment, wrote on WeChat that the patients entered the hospital on Nov. 3. His post has since been deleted, but in it he wrote; "After so many years of specialist training, I'm familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of most respiratory diseases. But this time, I looked and looked at it. I couldn't guess what pathogen caused this pneumonia. I only knew it was rare," according to the New York Times.
The New York Times also reported that Chinese censors mandated news aggregators to "block and control" online discussions related to plague. That order prompted citizens to call for transparency since China has ignominious track record of covering up diseases.
"The plague is not the most terrifying part," one user wrote on Weibo, as The New York Times reported. "What's even scarier is the information not being made public."
This week marks the official start of fall, but longer nights and colder days can make it harder to spend time outdoors. Luckily, there are several inspiring environmental films that can be streamed at home.
1. Kiss the Ground<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ccc5f0c92a5603e68aec39e56b0db02a"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3-V1j-zMZw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 22</strong></p><p>Between <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-photos-2647585008.html" target="_self">wildfires devastating the U.S. West Coast</a> and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tropical-storm-beta-landfall-2647760268.html" target="_self">storms battering the Gulf</a>, the impacts of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate crisis</a> can feel overwhelming right now. <em><a href="https://kissthegroundmovie.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Kiss the Ground</a> </em>offers an alternative to all of the bad news by focusing on solutions.</p><p>The film, directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, explains how we can heal the Earth through "regenerative agriculture," farming practices that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into soil as a way to restore soil health, which in turn boosts ecosystems and food supplies.</p><p>"<em>Kiss the Ground </em>shows how feasible it is to make these changes at a grassroots level immediately and make a truly substantive impact with low cost and easy to implement solutions," Executive Producer RJ Jain said in an email. "This is why I got involved."</p>
2. Public Trust: The Fight for America's Public Lands<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5338f7a2931e356910026e5fd76fac56"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jsKMTAaj_wQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: YouTube</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Sept. 25, 2 p.m. EDT </strong></p><p>This <a href="https://www.patagonia.com/films/public-trust/" target="_blank">award-winning documentary</a> tells the stories of Indigenous activists, journalists, whistleblowers and historians working to protect America's <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/public-lands" target="_self">public lands</a>. The film focuses on three political struggles: the shrinking of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/bears-ears" target="_self">Bears Ears</a> National Monument in Utah, the mining of Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota and the opening of the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/Arctic-National-Wildlife-Refuge" target="_self">Arctic National Wildlife Refuge</a> to fossil fuel exploration.</p><p><em>Public Trust</em> was directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Rubingh. Patagonia Films, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and actor Robert Redford are executive producers. It will be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGjnIG7puzY" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">released</a> on YouTube in time for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/national-public-lands-day-2640656776.html" target="_self">National Public Lands Day</a>.</p><p>"Our country is fortunate to have millions of acres of public lands, including National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness set aside for future generations," Redford said. "Sadly, these lands that belong to you and me are under unprecedented threats from the greed of big corporations, eager to weaken restrictions in the pursuit of profits. Many of our current politicians are also to blame. <em>Public Trust</em> tells the story of citizens who are fighting back. It's a much-needed wake-up call for all of us who want to preserve our unique and wild cultural heritage."</p>
3. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="156438a30836a765d7a92982545fc334"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B_OFZvAd05Y?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><strong>Streaming On: Netflix</strong></p><p><strong>Premiere Date: Oct. 4</strong></p><p>Beloved nature broadcaster <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/David-Attenborough" target="_self">David Attenborough</a> has spent his career introducing viewers to the wonders of our planet. In recent years, his footage of albatrosses swallowing <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" target="_self">plastic</a> in <em>Blue Planet II</em> has been credited with <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/2018-fighting-plastic-waste-2624606566.html" target="_self">helping to ramp up</a> the global fight against plastic pollution. Now, in this <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF)-produced <a href="https://www.attenborough.film/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">documentary</a>, he reflects on the defining moments of his career and the devastating changes he has witnessed.</p><p><em>David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,</em> which was also produced by Silverback Films and directed by Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes and Keith Scholey, features an intimate conversation between Attenborough and Sir Michael Palin as the broadcaster reflects on his life and a career that took him to every continent on Earth. In addition to streaming on Netflix, the movie will be available in select theaters starting Sept. 28.</p><p>"For decades, David has brought the natural world to the homes of audiences worldwide, but there has never been a more significant moment for him to share his own story and reflections," WWF executive producer Colin Butfield said in a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/david-attenborough-life-our-planet" target="_blank">statement</a>. "This film coincides with a monumental year for environmental action as world leaders make critical decisions on nature and climate. It sends a powerful message from the most inspiring and celebrated naturalist of our time."</p>
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