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Bacterial outbreak infects thousands after factory leak in China

September 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Several thousand people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease, authorities said on Tuesday, in an outbreak caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year.

(CNN)Several thousand people in northwest China have tested positive for a bacterial disease, authorities said on Tuesday, in an outbreak caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year.

The Health Commission of Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, confirmed that 3,245 people had contracted the disease brucellosis, which is often caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria brucella.

Another 1,401 people have tested as preliminarily positive, though there have been no fatalities reported, the city's Health Commission said.

Instead, most people are infected by eating contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria -- which seems to be the case in Lanzhou.

This outbreak stemmed 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.

This contaminated waste gas formed aerosols that contained the bacteria -- and leaked into the air, carried by wind down to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, where the outbreak first hit.

By the end of December, at least 181 people at the institute had been infected with brucellosis, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua.

Other infected patients included students and faculty members of Lanzhou University; the outbreak even spread to Heilongjiang province, at the very northeastern tip of the country, where 13 positive cases had worked in the veterinarian institute in August, Xinhua reported at the time.

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.

The Lanzhou Health Commission also announced in its report on Tuesday that 11 public hospitals would provide free and regular checkups for the infected patients.

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