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India's pneumonic plague outbreak continues to baffle

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 16 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:706

The origin of the Yersinia pestis strains that caused pneumonic plague in Surat last year, killing 52 people, remains a mystery, according to an Indian government scientific advisory panel investigating the outbreaks. The Technical Advisory Committee on Plague also told the government that uncharacterised strains of the micro-organism might have caused the outbreak.

The committee reported obtaining pure cultures of Y pestis from sputum samples of patients in Surat with pneumonic disease in September 1994 and detecting Y pestis genes in patient necropsy materials.

“This investigation establishes beyond doubt the identity of the causative agent as Yersinia pestis,” said Professor Vulimiri Ramalingaswamy, former director general of the Indian Council …

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