The warning will remain in effect until the end of the year, according to Xinhua.
Bacterial plague, transmitted by flea bites and infected animals, is one of the deadliest bacterial infections in human history. During the Black Death in the Middle Ages, it killed approximately 50 million people in Europe.
Bubonic plague, which is one of the three forms of plague, causes painful, swollen lymph nodes, as well as fever, chills and cough.
Bayannur health authorities urge people to take extra precautions to minimize the risk of human-to-human transmission and to avoid hunting or feeding animals that could cause infection.
Authorities in Bayanur have warned the public about reports of dead or diseased marmots, a species of large ground squirrel that is eaten in parts of China and neighboring Mongolia and has historically caused outbreaks of plague in the region.
The marmot is thought to have caused the pneumonia epidemic of 1911, which killed about 63,000 people in northeast China. It was hunted for its fur, which gained popularity among international traders. Sick leather goods were traded and transported around the country – infecting thousands along the way.
Why is the plague still something?
The advent of antibiotics, which can cure most infections if caught early enough, helped control outbreaks of plague by preventing the appearance of rapidly spreading witnesses in Europe during the Middle Ages.
But while modern medicine can cure the plague, it has not completely eliminated it – and has made a recent comeback, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to categorize it as an emerging disease.
Every year, 1,000 to 2,000 people become infected with the plague each year, according to the WHO. But this overall probability is too modest an estimate, as it does not take unreported cases into account.
The three most endemic countries – so the plague is permanent – are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Peru.
In the United States, there have been several to several dozen cases of plague each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, two people in Colorado died from the plague, and the year before there were eight reported cases in the state.
There is currently no effective plague vaccine, but modern antibiotics can prevent complications and death if given quickly enough. Untreated bubonic plague can turn into pneumonic plague, which causes rapidly developing pneumonia once the bacterium has spread to the lungs.