Hong Kong holds pneumonic plague drills

Departments and health organizations in Hong Kong took part in a drill that simulated an outbreak of pneumonic plague, the city announced on Friday.
Departments and health organizations in Hong Kong took part in a drill that simulated an outbreak of pneumonic plague, the city announced on Friday.

The scenario allowed participants to engage in detection activity and multiple kinds of iterations where played out and evaluated, including an imported case, locally confirmed cases and an outbreak with multiple clusters. The officials also took part in simulating rodent and flea control methods alongside human-centric case and outbreak models.

The scenario was a test of the city's contingency plan for plague cases and outbreak. This gave the Department of Health the chance to exercise its response activity and collaborative activity with other sections of the government.

The Department of Health stated that this exercise is considered successful and those response personnel and other stakeholders are better prepared for an outbreak.

Fevers, chills, weakness and headaches are common symptoms across major forms of the plague. The disease takes one of three forms in most cases dependant on how the bacterium was introduced into the body. Both bubonic and septicemic plague are dependent on the bite of an infected flea.

Symptoms of these forms can include painful swelling of lymph nodes with the latter having abdominal pain and blackening of the skin and tissue death. Pneumonic plague can cause respiratory issues including shortness of breath and chest pain, this form is inhaled or can develop from the other two forms.

The plague is considered to be a possible biological threat if it were to be weaponized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.