The Health Commission of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, confirmed that 3,245 people have contracted the disease of brucellosis, often caused by contact with cattle carrying the brucellose bacterium.
Another 1,401 people were preliminary positive, although no deaths were reported, the city health commission said. In total, the authorities tested 21,847 people out of the city’s 2.9 million inhabitants.
Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare, according to the CDC. Instead, most people become infected by eating contaminated food or breathing bacteria, as appears to be the case in Lanzhou.
This outbreak resulted from a leak at the Zhongmu Lanzhou organic pharmaceutical factory between the end of July and the end of August last year, according to the city health commission. When producing Brucella vaccines for animal use, the factory used out-of-date disinfectants and disinfectants, which means that not all bacteria have been eliminated in the exhaust.
This contaminated exhaust gas formed aerosols that contained the bacteria ̵
Other infected patients included students and faculty from Lanzhou University; the outbreak also spread to Heilongjiang province, in the northeastern extremity of the country, where 13 positive cases had worked in the veterinary institute in August, according to Xinhua.
A total of seven veterinary drug approval numbers were also canceled at the factory.
In February, the factory issued a public apology and said it had “severely punished” eight people who had been determined to be responsible for the accident. He added that he would cooperate with local authorities in response and clean-up efforts and contribute to a compensation program for those affected.
The Lanzhou Health Commission also announced in its report on Tuesday that 11 public hospitals will provide free and regular checkups for infected patients. The report offered no further details on compensation for patients, except that it would be launched in batches starting in October.