Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Two people died of the bubonic plague in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region of China in August, as authorities issued a third-level alert in the region and quarantined groups of people who may have made contact with the patients.
The two new cases of the plague were reported in China on Aug. 2 and Thursday, in Baotou city and Bayan Nur city, Urad Front Banner, respectively, China Central Television reported Monday.
The patient who died in Baotou city was diagnosed with "intestinal plague." The patient in Bayan Nur died of swollen lymph nodes after contracting the same disease, Chinese health authorities said.
The patient in Bayan Nur was taken to a hospital but died the next morning, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Comprehensive Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level 3 alert for the two cities and surrounding area. The advisory is expected to be in effect until the end of the year.
Authorities have also sealed off the area where the patients resided and are reportedly testing the quarantined group for the plague. Inner Mongolia has polymerase chain reaction testing capabilities, and funds are being allocated toward plague prevention, according to Xinhua.
Inner Mongolia is also stepping up pest control measures. The plague is believed to spread to humans from fleas and rats. Wildlife including marmots, voles and rabbits can also transmit the plague to humans. The bacteria can spread among people through droplets, similar to COVID-19.
Inner Mongolia is battling the plague at a time when the region is also coping with the aftermath of a tornado that injured at least 33 people, according to state media.
More than a hundred homes have also been damaged, according to China Central Television.