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Plague outbreak linked to dead dog
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The origin of the pneumonic plague might be the dog raised by the first victim, disease control specialists discovered yesterday.

The victim, a 32-year-old herdsman, owned a dog that died after contracting the plague from an ill wild marmot.

While the herdsman was burying the body of the dog, he was beaten by the fleas residing on the dead animal, causing him to contract the deadly plague, Wang Hu, a local disease control official, told Xinhua News Agency.

Three days later, the herdsman fell ill of the plague and eventually died, said the director of the Qinghai provincial center for disease prevention and control.

The pneumonic plague usually contaminates humans in one of three ways: through fleas that pass the bacteria from animals to humans, through the mouth-to-mouth contact or saliva exchanges among humans, and finally, through having wounds exposed to sick animals, he said.

The first victim fell ill through close contact with the animal. The disease spread as he talked to others in his village, health experts have predicted. "The first victim had no protection methods when burying the dead animal and was wearing no protection when keeping close contact with residents around him. These caused the spreading of the plague," Wang added.

(China Daily August 6, 2009)

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