Beijing ; Thousands of people in China have tested positive for a bacterial disease in an outbreak caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company.The Health Commission of the capital city Gansu province, confirmed that 3,245 people had contracted the disease brucellosis caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria brucella.
Another 1,401 people have tested as preliminarily positive and no fatalities reported,The disease, also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever, can cause symptoms including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue.Some symptoms can become chronic or never go away, like arthritis or swelling in certain organs, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Brucellosis had been much more common in China in the 1980s, though it has since declined.Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare instead, most people are infected by eating contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria, which seems to be the case in Lanzhou.
The outbreak started from a leak at the Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory, which occurred between late July to late August last year. While producing Brucella vaccines for animal use, the factory used expired disinfectants and sanitisers meaning not all bacteria were eradicated in the waste gas.This contaminated waste gas formed aerosols that contained the bacteria and leaked into the air, carried by wind down to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, where the outbreak first affected.
People at the institute began reporting infections in November. By the end of December, at least 181 people at the institute had been infected with brucellosis, according to Chinese news agency.The outbreak even spread to Heilongjiang province, where 13 positive cases had worked in the veterinary institute in August.By January, authorities had revoked vaccine production licenses for the plant, and withdrew product approval numbers for its two Brucellosis vaccines.