- Factory leak in China leads to bacterial disease
- Thousands of people test positive for the bacterial disease
- The disease is commonly known as the Malta fever
Chinese Authorities have confirmed that several thousand people in the NorthEast China area have tested positive in an outbreak which was caused by a leak at the biopharmaceutical firm last year.
The Health Commission of Lanzhou, which is also the capital city of Gansu province, announced that as many as 3,245 people had contracted the disease called Brucellosis. This bacterial disease is often caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria Brucella, a leading international news agency reported.
Health Commission of Lanzhou said that this bacterial outbreak began after a leak at the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory, which occurred between late July to late August in the year 2019.
An additional 1,401 people were tested positive for this disease, however, there have been no fatalities reported yet said the city’s Health Commission. The authroities have tested a total of 21,847 people out of the city’s 2.9 million (29 lakh) population.
The bacterial disease is also known as the Malta fever or the Mediterranean fever and can cause symptoms which includes headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue.
What makes this disease severe is that some symptoms can become chronic and never go away such as arthritis, swelling in certain organs according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Having said this, CDC claims that human-to-human transmission of this diseases is extremely rase and most people are infected by eating contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria – which seems to be the case in the Lanzhou area.
While producing Brucella vaccines for animals, the factory used expired disinfectants and sanitizers which means that not all of the bacteria was eradicated in the waste gas.
The contaminated waste gas formed aerosols which contained the bacteria and then leaked into the aird which was carried by the wind to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, where the outbreak first hit.
In the subsequent months following the outbreak, both provincial and municipal officials launched an investigation into the leak at the factory as per the Lanzhou Health Commission. By January this year, authorities had revoked vaccine production licenses for the plant and withdrew product approval numbers for its two Brucellosis vaccines.
A total of seven veterinary drug product approval numbers were also cancelled in the factory.
Later in February, the factory issued a public apology and said that it had “severely punished” the eight people who were found responsible for the incident.