Thousand people in northwest China have tested positive for brucellosis, a bacterial disease, the Chinese authorities confirmed on Tuesday, in an outbreak caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year.
Authorities have now discovered that the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory, which was making brucellosis vaccines for animals, accidentally vented an aerosolized version of Brucella (the bacteria that causes brucellosis) into the air last summer due to the use of expired sanitizers and disinfectants, CNN report.
The health commission of Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province said about 3,245 people have tested positive for the disease, which is allegedly caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria Brucella, and according to some reports, it can have the side effect of inflamed testicles and can render some men infertile.
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the disease, also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever, can cause headaches, muscle pain, fever, and fatigue. While these symptoms may subside, some symptoms can become chronic or never go away, like arthritis or swelling in certain organs.
The CDC said human-to-human transmission in this disease is extremely rare and the infection spreads mostly through consumption of contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria — which seems to be the case in Lanzhou.
Initially, a small number of people were thought to be infected, but testing of 21,000 people has shown the number of infections to be much higher. No deaths have so far been reported. “The number is way larger than expected and raised widespread concern over the disease’s spread and its consequences,” reported China’s state-run Global Times newspaper.
Input from News18