A man from Jiuquan City, Gansu Province died Wednesday after contracting the serious bacterial infection, plague, according to a Xinhua report today. The fatality comes a few months after another man from the province died from Yersinia pestis infection, or plague.

This image depicts a magnified view of an oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis. Image/CDC
This image depicts a magnified view of an oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis. Image/CDC

The report states the herdman grazed his sheep in a pasture where widespread plague has been reported among marmot in recent years. A total of 41 people who had close contact with Ma have been put in quarantine under medical observation. None has shown any symptoms so far.

Both cases reported since July have been marmot related.

Related: Congo, Madagascar top countries reporting most plague 2000-2009, US reports 57 cases

The term “plague” has struck fear into the hearts of people for centuries and for good reason. Historically, plague has destroyed entire civilizations. Probably the most noteworthy, the “Black Death” of the 1300s, that killed approximately one-third of Europe’s population.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is found in animals throughout the world, most commonly rats but other rodents like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, rabbits and voles. Fleas typically serve as the vector of plague. Human cases have been linked to the domestic cats and dogs that brought infected fleas into the house.

People can also get infected through direct contact with an infected animal, through inhalation and in the case of pneumonic plague, person to person.

Yersinia pestis is treatable with antibiotics if started early enough.

There are three forms of human plague; bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page