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"A lot of people ran off last night when they heard that another person died of this plague. They are mostly from other provinces," said a foodseller surnamed Han who runs a stall at the Crystal Alley Market. "They headed back home with food, mineral water and their donkeys."
It was unclear if the people who headed out of the town made it past the police checkpoints. Officials at the local and provincial level were unavailable to comment.
According to the World Health Organization, pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, capable of killing a person 24 hours after he or she gets the disease.
A 2006 WHO report from an international meeting on plague cited a Chinese government disease expert as saying that most cases of the plague in China's northwest occur when hunters are contaminated while skinning infected animals.
Pneumonic plague is caused by the same bacteria that causes bubonic plague -- the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe in the Middle Ages. However, bubonic plague is usually transmitted by flea bites and can be easily treated with antibiotics.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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