CHINA ADMITS OUTBREAK OF BRUCELLOSIS AFTER LEAK IN PHARMA FIRM
Several thousand people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease, authorities said, in an outbreak caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year.
The Health Commission of Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, confirmed that 3,245 people had contracted the disease brucellosis, which is often caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria Brucella, Jessie Yeung and Eric Cheung reported for CNN.
Another 1,401 people have tested as preliminarily positive, though there have been no fatalities reported, the city's Health Commission said. In total, authorities have tested 21,847 people out of the city's population of 2.9 million people. The delayed report has dismayed China critics, who expected that such an outbreak should have been reported earlier not only to the World Health Organization (WHO) but also to the World Animal Health Organization based in Paris since the bacteria often afflict livestock.
The disease, also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever, can cause symptoms including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue. While these may subside, some symptoms can become chronic or never go away, like arthritis or swelling in certain organs, according to the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare, according to the CDC. Instead, most people are infected by eating contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria -- which seems to be the case in Lanzhou. This outbreak stemmed from a leak at the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory, which occurred between late July to late August last year, according to the city's Health Commission. While producing Brucella vaccines for animal use, the factory used expired disinfectants and sanitizers -- meaning not all bacteria were eradicated in the waste gas.
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