The warning will remain in effect until the end of the year, according to Xinhua.
The bacterium, which is caused by the stings of fleas and infected animals, is one of the deadliest bacterial infections in human history. During the Black Death in the Middle Ages, it killed about 50 million people in Europe.
The Bubonic plague, which is one of the three forms of plague, causes painful, swollen lymph nodes, as well as fever, chills and coughing.
Bayannur’s health authorities are now urging people to take extra precautions to minimize the risk of human-to-human transmission and to avoid hunting or consuming animals that could cause infection.
Bayannur authorities have warned the public to find the remains of dead or diseased marmots – a type of large squirrel eaten in parts of China and neighboring Mongolia, which have historically caused plague in the region.
The marmot is believed to have caused the 1911 lung plague epidemic, which killed about 63,000 people in northeastern China. It was hunted for its fur, which grew in popularity among international traders. Sick fur products were traded and transported across the country – infecting thousands along the way.
Why is the plague still something?
The advent of antibiotics, which can cure most infections, if they occur early enough, has helped curb plague epidemics, preventing the type of rapid-onset martyrs in Europe during the Middle Ages.
But while modern medicine can cure the plague, it has not completely eradicated it – and has made a recent comeback, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to label it as a recurring disease.
Anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people suffer from the plague each year, according to the WHO. But this set is probably a very mediocre estimate, as it does not take into account cases that have not been reported.
The three most endemic countries – meaning there is a permanent plague – are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Peru.
In the United States, there have been anywhere from a few to a few dozen cases of plague each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, two people in Colorado died of the plague and there were eight cases in the state last year.
There is currently no effective vaccine against plague, but modern antibiotics can prevent complications and death if given fairly quickly. Unprocessed plant plague can turn into pulmonary plague, which causes rapidly growing pneumonia after the bacteria have spread to the lungs.