The pneumonic plague has reared its ugly head, as a pair of patients were diagnosed with the serious ailment in China this week, officials said.
Doctors in Beijing diagnosed the patients, who have not been identified, with that variation of plague on Tuesday, prompting them to receive treatment in the capital city’s Chaoyang District, according to Xinhua, a Chinese news agency.
Pneumonic is one of the three variations of plague, which is caused by a bacteria called Yersinia pestis that can be passed along by certain animals or through their fleas, according to the World Heath Organization (WHO).
The other forms are bubonic and septicemic plague.
Plague is believed to be responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 1300s during a horrific pandemic referred to as the Black Death.
A reported 584 deaths were attributed to plague across the globe out of 3,248 cases between 2010 and 2015, according to WHO.
WHO classifies the pneumonic variation of plague as the most virulent and says it is “always fatal” if not treated.
The patients diagnosed in China this week are from the country’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
“The (Chinese) National Health Commission are implementing efforts to contain and treat the identified cases and increasing surveillance,” Fabio Scano said on behalf of WHO China, according to The Guardian.