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China's Quake Zone Guards Against Marmot Plague Outbreak

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Health authorities in China's earthquake-hit area on Saturday said they are prepared to prevent the outbreak of a deadly disease spread by marmots in the wake of devastation.

Jie Xuehui, a provincial official overseeing the health sector, told a press briefing that the 7.1-magnitude earthquake increased the chance of this pneumonic plague outbreak as marmots emerged from burrows earlier than before in the aftermath of a big earthquake.

He said by Friday a team of 16 quarantine workers and 10 marmot plague specialists, armed with disinfection vehicles and tons of medicines and vaccines, have been deployed to the field.

Pneumonic plague, an infection in the lungs, is a rare but deadly form of plague. Signs of illness include fever, headache, weakness and rapidly developing pneumonia.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2010)