Thousands of people in northwest China tested positive for brucellosis, a bacterial disease, after a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year.
As per the Health Commission of Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, 3,245 people were infected by brucellosis, which is often caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria Brucella.
According to Global Times report, from July 24, 2019, to August 20, Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory situated near the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute used expired disinfectant in the process of Brucella vaccine production for animal use. This led to the incomplete sterilization of the waste gas from the production fermentation tank.
Pharmaceutical factory to give compensation
The waste gas carrying the fermentation liquid containing bacteria formed bacteria-containing aerosols and during the production period, the prevailing wind direction in the region was southeast, and Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute was downwind of the factory and infections occurred as a result.
Also known as Mediterranean fever, Brucellosis is an infectious bacterial disease affecting human beings caused by Brucella. Transmitted by contact with infected livestock including cattle and sheep, the symptoms include fever, malaise and headaches.
According to China’s CDC, it can also damage the male testes, female ovaries and other reproductive systems.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, untreated, brucellosis can lead to death.
Brucellosis can lead to death if untreated
“Prolonged antibiotic treatment is usually effective. Control measures include animal vaccination and/or test-and-slaughter of infected animals, as well as pasteurisation of milk and dairy products,” said ECDPC.
Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported that people at Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute started reporting infections in November after which it rapidly accelerated.
By the end of December 2019, around 181 people including students and faculty members were infected with brucellosis.
The spread of brucellosis was very common in China in the 1980s.