The bubonic plague, the deadly virus nicknamed the Black Death after it took out half of Europe during the Middle Ages, is back. In China. Right now.
Parts of the northern Chinese city of Yumen were quarantined after state media confirmed that a man died from the bacterial infection on July 16, the Associated Press reported. Local authorities have quarantined 151 people and have established 10 checkpoints to block traffic in the city, with a population of 180,000.
China's official Xinhua News Agency said that investigators believe the man contracted the disease through contact with a marmot, a species of squirrel.
The bacterial infection, which is contracted through rodents that have been exposed to flea bites, targets the lymphatic system, resulting in inflammation that leads to large blisters across the body, mostly around the lymph nodes.
Originally recorded in China in the 14th century, the bubonic plague spread to Europe through silk road trading routes, killing an estimated 25 million people.
Most recent cases of the plague have occurred in the developing world with sporadic incidents in the United States. It is treatable with antibiotics.
While modern medicine has blunted its effects, here's a 19th century representation from Arnold Böcklin of just how scary the bubonic plague was in the Middle Ages.
This post originally appeared on The Wire, an Atlantic partner site.
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