By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In a follow-up to a report on a plague outbreak in Ituri province in northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last week, officials say they are investigating a cluster of deaths due to suspected pneumonic plague were recorded in the health zone of Fataki, Ituri province.

Bipolar staining of a plague smear prepared from lymph aspirated from an adenopathic lymph node, or bubo, of a plague patient./CDC

The cluster, that began on Apr 22, has resulted in 19 suspected pneumonic plague cases, including 11 deaths were recorded in two health areas (Bu-Kachele and Bule) of the Fataki health zone.

The patients presented with headache, fever, chills, coughing sometimes with blood, dyspnea, vomiting blood, etc. An investigation was conducted during which suspected cases were identified and samples taken to be shipped to the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa for confirmatory testing.

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Pneumonic plague, which is the most severe form of plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, can be transmitted between people through breathing airborne droplets or through contact with the patient’s bloody sputum. The severe lung infection has a high mortality rate, but it can be cured if treated with antibacterial drugs at an early stage.