Plague – Congo The Democratic Republic Of The

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Thirty-one people have died in an outbreak of plague that erupted in northeastern DR Congo three months ago.

The onset of the epidemic was between November 15 and December 13 in Biringi, in Ituri’s Aru Territory. More than 520 cases have been registered with 31 dead. The average age of patients was 13, but varied between three months and 73 years.

Plague has persisted in the province of Ituri since it was first confirmed there in 1926. In 2019, in July of a plague outbreak icurred n Rethy, also in Ituri.

Photo: Yersinia pestis, Direct Fluorescent Antibody Stain

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Symptoms include fever, weakness and headache. Usually this begins one to seven days after exposure. In the bubonic form there is also swelling of lymph nodes, while in the septicemic form tissues may turn black and die, and in the pneumonic form shortness of breath, cough and chest pain may occur.

Bubonic and septicemic plague are generally spread by flea bites or handling an infected animal. The pneumonic form is generally spread between people through the air via infectious droplets.

Plague has historically occurred in large outbreaks, with the best known being the Black Death in the 14th century which resulted in greater than 50 million dead.

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