Officials in the city of Bayan Nur, in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, issued an early epidemic warning on Sunday – one day after a hospital in the region reported that a man had displayed symptoms of the disease known as the “Black Death”.
Health officials later confirmed that the unidentified herdsman had tested positive for the illness and was placed in quarantine. He is thought to be in a stable condition.
It is not yet known how the man might have become infected with the disease.
“We are monitoring the outbreaks in China, we are watching that closely and in partnership with the Chinese authorities and Mongolian authorities,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. press briefing in Geneva.
“At the moment we are not…considering it high-risk but we are watching it, monitoring it carefully,” she added.
Officials said they were also investigating a second suspected case of bubonic plague, according to China’s Global Times.
The second reported case was in a 15-year-old girl, who allegedly come into contact with a dead marmot hunted by a dog, according to the publication.
China’s pandemic warning has temporarily banned the hunting of animals – such as rodents – that could carry plague.
It also asks the public to report any suspected cases of plague or fever with no clear causes and to report any sick or dead marmots.
In November last year, three people in northern China were reported to have been infected with the disease.
Among those was a 58-year-old man who had killed an eaten a wild rabbit. A further 28 people were quarantined as a result of the infection,.
The bubonic plague, known as the Black Death in the Middle Ages, is a highly infectious and often fatal disease that is spread mostly by rodents.
Cases are not uncommon in China although they are becoming increasingly rare.
Additional reporting by Reuters