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Health Ministry Warns Outbreak of Marmot Plague in Quake Zone

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China's Health Ministry said Thursday the country faced "relatively severe" challenges in preventing and controlling an outbreak of marmot plague in quake zone.

The Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in northwest China's Qinghai Province was jolted by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake Wednesday, leaving 617 people dead, 9,110 injured and 313 missing.

Yushu is a natural source of marmot plague and infections of the disease among animals have been frequent in recent years, according to a notice posted on the ministry's website.

In the meantime, marmots come out of hibernation in April each year, so the situation to prevent and control the disease from an outbreak looks grim after the powerful quake this year, said the notice.

The ministry has asked experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention to go to the quake zone, and gauge the situation to work out and implement effective measures for prevention and control of an outbreak of the plague.

(Xinhua News Agency April 15, 2010)

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