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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 17:20 GMT
Plague confirmed in northern India
Map of India
Authorities say the outbreak has been contained
test hello test

By Jyotsna Singh
in Delhi
line

India's Health Minister CP Thakur has confirmed that four people in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh have died of pneumonic plague.


The sequence of tests collectively confirmed that the cases related to infection with Yersinia Pestis, commonly known as pneumonic plague

Health Minister C P Thakur

But Dr Thakur told a news conference that the disease had been contained and all preventive measures possible had been put in place.

Precautions had also been taken in Uttaranchal, where a woman contracted the disease from a relative in Himachal Pradesh, he said.

The remote village where the four victims died has been sealed off.

Another 12 people are undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Chandigarh city.

'All measures taken'

"The sequence of tests collectively confirmed that the cases related to infection with Yersinia Pestis, commonly known as pneumonic plague," said Dr Thakur.

He said the conclusion was supported by other clinical and epidemiological evidence.

Scientists conducted the final tests on blood and sputum samples of the victims at the Delhi-based National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) late Monday.

Kim Farley of the World Health Organisation, who was also present at the press conference, commended the Indian government's efforts to control the disease.

He said the WHO was not likely to issue any alert for tourists, and asked the media not to sensationalize the story as preventive measures had been taken.

Although no fresh cases have been reported over the past three days, panic has been reported in and around the affected villages.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Satish Jacob
"It is extremely contagious"
See also:

20 Jul 01 | Health
World's biggest health threats
26 Feb 01 | South Asia
Mystery fever in India
12 Sep 00 | South Asia
Brain fever spreads in India
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