Manchurian plague

Last updated
Victims of the Manchurian plague, circa 1910. Picture of Manchurian Plague victims in 1910 -1911.jpg
Victims of the Manchurian plague, circa 1910.

The Manchurian plague was a pneumonic plague that occurred mainly in Manchuria in 1910–1911. It killed 60,000 people, stimulating a multinational medical response and the wearing of the first personal protective equipment (PPE).

Contents

History

The plague is thought to have originated from a tarbagan marmot infected with bacterial pneumonia. Tarbagan marmots were hunted for their fur in Manchuria. It was an airborne spread disease and was incredibly deadly, with a near 100 percent mortality rate. Its spread was magnified by marmot hunters gathering in the bitter winter months, and the eventual travel of migrant workers during the Chinese New Year. Russia and Japan both had economic interests in the region and needed to cooperate with Chinese authorities. [1]

The Cambridge-trained doctor Wu Lien-teh led Chinese efforts to end the plague, and promoted quarantine and the wearing of cloth face masks. [2] [3] He also convened the International Plague Conference in Mukden in April 1911, the first major event of its kind that brought together an international team of scientists concerned with disease control. [4] [5]

The Chinese government also sought the support of foreign doctors, a number of whom died as a consequence of the disease. [6] In Harbin, this included the Frenchman Gérald Mesny, from the Imperial Medical College in Tientsin, who disputed Wu's recommendation of masks; a few days later, he died after catching the plague when visiting patients without wearing a mask. [7] Another was the 26-year-old Arthur F. Jackson, a United Free Church of Scotland missionary doctor, who fell ill within eight days of inspecting and quarantining hundreds of poor laborers; he died two days later in Mukden. [8] [9]

In the end, the death toll reached some 60,000 lives. The hardest hit cities included Changchun, Harbin, and Mukden. Although the disease was largely confined to Manchuria, cases were found elsewhere in cities such as Beijing and Tianjin. [1]

Significance

Plague workers in personal protective equipment Plague Workers Mukden, Manchuria, 1882-ca. 1936 (imp-cswc-GB-237-CSWC47-LS8-045).jpg
Plague workers in personal protective equipment

The Manchurian plague is believed to have highlighted the importance of a multinational medical response, setting precedents for organizations such as the World Health Organization. [10] Wu Lien-teh's widespread promotion of cloth plague mask-wearing by doctors, nurses, patients, contacts, and (to the degree that it was possible) the population at large was the first time such an epidemic containment measure had been attempted. [11] The event was also influential in establishing the use of personal protective equipment to stop the spread of disease, and is credited for the origins of the modern hazmat suit. [11] [12]

Parallels have also been made between the management and control of the Manchurian plague and other outbreaks of infectious disease such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2013–2016) [13] and COVID-19 pandemic (2019–present). [14] [15]

Related Research Articles

Manchuria Geographic region in Northeast Asia

Manchuria is an exonym for several large overlapping historical and geographic regions of Russia and China in Northeast Asia. Depending on the context, it may refer to:

Personal protective equipment Equipment designed to help protect an individual from hazards

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by protective equipment include physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. Protective equipment may be worn for job-related occupational safety and health purposes, as well as for sports and other recreational activities. Protective clothing is applied to traditional categories of clothing, and protective gear applies to items such as pads, guards, shields, or masks, and others. PPE suits can be similar in appearance to a cleanroom suit.

Pneumonic plague Severe lung infection

Pneumonic plague is a severe lung infection caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Symptoms include fever, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. They typically start about three to seven days after exposure. It is one of three forms of plague, the other two being septicemic plague and bubonic plague.

Harbin Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Heilongjiang, Peoples Republic of China

Harbin is a sub-provincial city and the provincial capital of Heilongjiang province, People's Republic of China, as well as the second largest city by urban population and largest city by metropolitan population in Northeast China. Harbin has direct jurisdiction over nine metropolitan districts, two county-level cities and seven counties, and is the eighth most populous Chinese city according to the 2010 census, the built-up area had 5,282,093 inhabitants, while the total metropolitan population was up to 10,635,971, making it one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. Harbin serves as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications hub in Northeast China, as well as an important industrial base of the nation. Harbin is also one of the top 200 science cities and metropolitan areas in the world by scientific research output as tracked by the Nature Index. The city is the seat of several major universities in the Project 211, including Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin Engineering University, Northeast Agricultural University and Northeast Forestry University.

Unit 731 Part of IJN army, infamous for war crimes

Unit 731, short for Manshu Detachment 731 and also known as Kamo Detachment, Ishii Unit, was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) of World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Imperial Japan. Unit 731 was based at the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest gas chamber in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, and had active branch offices throughout China and Southeast Asia.

Changchun Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Jilin, Peoples Republic of China

Changchun is the capital and largest city of Jilin Province, People's Republic of China. Lying in the center of the Songliao Plain, Changchun is administered as a sub-provincial city, comprising 7 districts, 1 county and 2 county-level cities. According to the 2010 census of China, Changchun had a total population of 7,674,439 under its jurisdiction. The city's metro area, comprising 5 districts and 4 development areas, had a population of 3,815,270 in 2010, as the Shuangyang and Jiutai districts are not urbanized yet. It is one of the biggest cities in Northeast China, along with Shenyang, Dalian and Harbin.

The year 1910 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

Third plague pandemic Bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan province in China in 1855

The third plague pandemic was a major bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan, China, in 1855 during the fifth year of the Xianfeng Emperor of the Qing dynasty. This episode of bubonic plague spread to all inhabited continents, and ultimately led to more than 12 million deaths in India and China, with about 10 million killed in India alone, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history. According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic was considered active until 1960, when worldwide casualties dropped to 200 per year. Plague deaths have continued at a lower level for every year since.

Zhang Jinghui

Zhang Jinghui ; was a Chinese general and politician during the Warlord era. He is noted for his role in the Japanese puppet regime of Manchukuo in which he served as its second and final Prime Minister.

Wang Delin or Wang Teh-ling (王德林) (1875-1938) was a bandit, soldier and leader of the National Salvation Army resisting the Japanese pacification of Manchukuo.

Tarbagan marmot Species of mammal

The Tarbagan marmot is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. It is found in China, northern and western Mongolia, and Russia. In the Mongolian Altai the range overlaps with that of the Gray marmot. The species was classified as endangered by the IUCN in 2008.

Wu Lien-teh Malayan physician

Wu Lien-teh, , was a Malayan physician renowned for his work in public health, particularly the Manchurian plague of 1910–11.

Bubonic plague Human and animal disease

Bubonic plague is one of three types of plague caused by the plague bacterium. One to seven days after exposure to the bacteria, flu-like symptoms develop. These symptoms include fever, headaches, and vomiting. Swollen and painful lymph nodes occur in the area closest to where the bacteria entered the skin. Occasionally, the swollen lymph nodes, known as "buboes" pictured to the right, may break open.

Harbin Medical University

Harbin Medical University is a public university located in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China.

Ziketan Town Town in Qinghai, China

Ziketan Town is a farming town in Xinghai County of Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province, People's Republic of China. Ziketan town covers approximately 3,000 square kilometres (1,158 sq mi) and has a population of 10,000.

1924 Los Angeles pneumonic plague outbreak

The 1924 Los Angeles pneumonic plague outbreak was an outbreak of the pneumonic plague in Los Angeles, California that began on September 28, 1924 and was declared fully contained on November 13, 1924. It represented the first time that the plague had emerged in Southern California; plague outbreaks previously surfaced in San Francisco and Oakland. The outbreak killed 30 people and infected several more. Public health officials credited the lessons learned from the San Francisco outbreak with saving lives, and swiftly implemented preventative measures, including hospitalization of the sick and all their contacts, a neighborhood quarantine, and a large-scale rat eradication program. The epicenter of the plague was in the Macy Street District, primarily home to Mexican immigrants. Racism against Mexican Americans tainted the reaction to the plague, an issue not made public until the outbreak concluded. This outbreak was the last instance of aerosol transmission of the plague and the last major plague outbreak in the United States.

Richard P. Strong

Richard Pearson Strong (1872–1948) was a tropical medicine professor at Harvard, who did significant work in plague, cholera, bacillary dysentery and other diseases. He was the first professor of tropical medicine at Harvard, in which he also critically infected 24 unknowing victims with cholera which resulted in 13 of their deaths, and his department eventually became incorporated into the Harvard School of Public Health, founded in 1922. From 1926-1927 he led the Harvard Medical African Expedition and authored the book The African Republic of Liberia and the Belgian Congo: Based on the Observations Made and Material Collected during the Harvard African Expedition, 1926-1927 in a partnership with other Expedition members and Harvard officials.

Francis Esmond Reynolds FRSE (1882–1967) was a 20th-century British pathologist and medical author.

Cloth face mask mask made of common textiles worn over the mouth and nose

A cloth face mask is a mask made of common textiles, usually cotton, worn over the mouth and nose. When more effective masks are not available, and when physical distancing is impossible, cloth face masks are recommended by public health agencies for disease "source control" in epidemic situations to protect others from virus laden droplets in infected mask wearers' breath, coughs, and sneezes. Because they are less effective than N95 masks, surgical masks, or physical distancing in protecting the wearer against viruses, they are not considered to be personal protective equipment by public health agencies. They are used by the general public in household and community settings as protection against both infectious diseases and particulate air pollution.

References

  1. 1 2 Meiklejohn, Iain. "Manchurian plague, 1910-11". Disaster History. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  2. Yu-lin, Wu (1995). Memories Of Dr Wu Lien-teh, Plague Fighter. World Scientific. ISBN   978-981-4632-82-9.
  3. Wilson, Mark (2020-03-24). "The untold origin story of the N95 mask". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  4. "Inaugural address delivered at the opening of the International Plague Conference, Mukden, April 4th, 1911". Wellcome Collection. 1911. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  5. "World History Connected | Vol. 14 No. 3 | Michael Corsi: Identities in Crisis: Representations of Other and Self in Manchuria during the Plague Years of 1910-1911". worldhistoryconnected.press.uillinois.edu. Retrieved 2020-12-17.
  6. Gamsa, Mark (2006). "The Epidemic of Pneumonic Plague in Manchuria 1910-1911". Past & Present. 190 (190): 155. doi:10.1093/pastj/gtj001. ISSN   0031-2746. JSTOR   3600890.
  7. Leung, Angela Ki Che (2010). Health and Hygiene in Chinese East Asia: Policies and Publics in the Long Twentieth Century. Duke University Press. pp. 79–80. ISBN   978-0-8223-4826-9.
  8. Bu, Liping (2017). Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015. Taylor & Francis. p. 50. ISBN   978-1-317-54135-6.
  9. Costain, Alfred James (1911). The life of Dr. Arthur Jackson of Manchuria. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  10. Summers, William C. (2012). The Great Manchurian Plague of 1910–1911: The Geopolitics of an Epidemic Disease. Yale University Press. ISBN   978-0-300-18319-1.
  11. 1 2 Kale, Sirin (26 March 2020). "'They can cost £63k': how the hazmat suit came to represent disease, danger – and hope". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  12. Lynteris, Christos (18 August 2018). "Plague Masks: The Visual Emergence of Anti-Epidemic Personal Protection Equipment". Medical Anthropology. 37 (6): 442–457. doi: 10.1080/01459740.2017.1423072 . ISSN   0145-9740. PMID   30427733.
  13. Liu, He; Jiao, Mingli; Zhao, Siqi; Xing, Kai; Li, Ye; Ning, Ning; Liang, Libo; Wu, Qunhong; Hao, Yanhua (April 2015). "Controlling Ebola: what we can learn from China's 1911 battle against the pneumonic plague in Manchuria". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 33. pp. 222–226. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2015.02.013 . PMC   7110523 . PMID   25722280.
  14. Soon, Wayne; Chong, Ja Ian (12 February 2020). "What History Teaches About the Coronavirus Emergency". The Diplomat. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  15. French, Paul (19 April 2020). "Lessons from a deadly 1911 epidemic in China". CNN. Retrieved 23 April 2020.