The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc all across the world with no end in sight. World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has recently said that there is no guarantee whether any single coronavirus vaccine now in development will work. The organisation has said that currently, 200 COVID-19 vaccines are in clinical and preclinical testing.
So far, the pandemic has claimed the lives of 971,000 people, and affected over 31.6 million people in the world. However, compounding the current problems affecting the world, scientists are now worried about another disease called Brucellosis that has infected over 3000 people in north-east China. The outbreak of the bacterial disease is said to have been caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year, authorities said last week.
If the disease spreads as quickly as the coronavirus, trouble is not far behind for a country like India. The COVID-19 pandemic on its own has brought the country to its knees with hospitals swamped with patients, and many hospitals struggling to arrange ICU beds, oxygen masks, and ventilators. It is not hard to imagine the scale of devastation that the country is about to face if the bacterial disease is allowed to sweep the country.
The outbreak began from a leak at the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory, which occurred between late July to late August last year, according to the city’s Health Commission.
While producing Brucella vaccines for animal use, the factory used expired disinfectants and sanitizers — meaning not all bacteria were eradicated in the waste gas.
This contaminated waste gas formed aerosols that contained the bacteria — and leaked into the air, carried by the wind down to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, where the outbreak first hit.
In the months after the outbreak, provincial and municipal officials launched an investigation into the leak at the factory, according to the Lanzhou Health Commission.
India is at risk because of its reliance on cattle agriculture and livestock livelihood. The researchers are worried that farm animals could be a big threat of transmission by consumption of unpasteurized animal products or by direct contact.
Researchers have suggested restricting movement to-and-from China considering now that the disease has spread to northwest China, and it might spread to other countries if the border restrictions are not put in place. They also expect that the number of cases could be over 1 Lakh, and therefore preparations of hospital beds and testing facilities should be made accordingly.
The disease Brucellosis, also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever, can cause symptoms including headaches, muscle pain, fever, and fatigue.
While some symptoms can become chronic or never go away, like arthritis or swelling in certain organs, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A report in South China Morning Post quoted Zhu Guoqiang, a professor at Yangzhou University’s College of Veterinary Medicine saying that in serious cases, brucellosis could cause lasting damage to the reproductive system. “If not treated properly, men can become infertile,” he said.