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Race to Contain Plague in Quake Zone

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Science  30 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5978, pp. 559
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5978.559-a

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Disease specialists have launched an emergency operation in western China to avert a possible outbreak of pneumonic plague in the wake of a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in Qinghai Province. The 14 April quake, centered in Yushu County in southeastern Qinghai, killed 2220 people and left about 100,000 homeless. As relief crews race to shelter survivors and cremate victims, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention this week dispatched to Qinghai a mobile biosafety level 3 laboratory, capable of safely handling the most dangerous pathogens. The agency acquired the lab after the SARS epidemic in 2003; this is the first time it has been deployed.