Everyone hasn't forgotten the traumatic events of 2003 when the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic hits. Many nations were caught unaware and people died because of it. It was later traced back to a virus originating from civet cats in China.
Forward to today, the H1N1 pandemic claims 700 odd lives around the world. This time round the virus originating from birds. But recent news has suggested a plague that is going on in Mainland China. Currently the outspread is still in its early stages and contained within the Qinghai province.
BEIJING: The death toll from an outbreak of pneumonic plague in northwest China has risen to three, state media reported Tuesday as authorities maintained a quarantine lockdown on a town of 10,000.
The latest victim was a 64-year-old man who died Monday in Ziketan, a remote town in a Tibetan area of Qinghai province where two fatalities had previously been reported, the Global Times said.
At least nine other people were infected with the highly virulent disease, mostly relatives of the first fatality, a 32-year-old herdsman, reports said, quoting local health authorities.
Qinghai provincial health authorities refused to comment when contacted by AFP Tuesday.
Ziketan, which is about 200 kilometres (125 miles) southwest of the provincial capital Xining, had enough supplies to get by on its own for the time being, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Health authorities were urging people who had visited Ziketan on or after July 16 to seek immediate help if they developed coughing or fever.
Medical staff were disinfecting the region and tracking down people who had been in close contact with the patients but there had been no reports of new infections, Xinhua said.
The vast high-altitude area is sparsely inhabited, mainly by Tibetan herders.
Pneumonic plague spreads through the air, making it easier to contract than bubonic plague, which requires that a person is bitten by an infected flea.
The World Health Organisation says pneumonic plague is the most virulent but least common form of plague. The mortality rate is high and patients can die 24 hours after infection.
With its death toll currently at 3, the hot question burning in everyone's mind would be whether if this plague would further evolved into Pandemic number 3. It might be, it might not. But the chances are still there.