After Corona now Brucella outbreak in China: Thousands infected by bacteria after leak in biopharmaceutical plant

Another outbreak in China has sparked a wave of concern among authorities after thousands of people in the northern part of the country tested positive for a bacterial infection.

The infection spread among people working in a state-owned biopharmaceutical plant in Lanzhou city, which produces animal vaccines after a leak occurred last year.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Brucellosis outbreak:

  • According to Chinese authorities, the biopharmaceutical plant had used expired disinfectants for producing Brucella vaccines for animals between July and August last year. This indicated that the bacteria was not eradicated in the factory exhaust.
  • Subsequently, the contaminated gas from the factory formed aerosols containing the bacteria, which was then carried by wind to a nearby Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute. This resulted in infecting close to 200 people there as well in December last year.
  • There are 3,245 people who have contracted Brucellosis, according to health officials in Lanzhou. Another 1,401 people also tested as an early positive for the disease, news agency AFP reported. The total positive cases also included 20 students and faculty members of Lanzhou University, some of whom had been to the institute.
  • Brucellosis, caused by brucella bacteria, is often caused by close contact with infected animals or animal products that can bring about fevers, joint pain and headaches.
  • Health authorities have said there has been no evidence of person-to-person transmission of Brucellosis so far. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that person-to-person transmission of brucellosis is “extremely rare” but some symptoms may reoccur or never go away.
  • This infection outbreak, like other such as the coronavirus disease, has also traced its origin to animals. Sheep, cattle and pigs were most commonly involved in the spread of the bacteria, Lanzhou’s health commission has said.
  • In this infection, some symptoms like recurrent fevers, chronic fatigue, swelling of the heart or arthritis are expected to never go away and reoccur in patients who have tested positive, according to the US’ CDC.
  • Brucellosis also goes by the name of Malta fever or Mediterranean fever and can cause symptoms including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue.

From virus to bacteria, and then superbugs and the end of the world