North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has reported a suspected case of the bubonic plague, Xinhua reported, citing local authorities.

The Bayannur municipal health commission said in a statement that a hospital in Urad Middle Banner reported the case on Saturday. On the following day, local officials in Bayannur issued a level three warning for plague prevention and control that will stay on till the end of this year. It is still unclear how the person was infected.

The local health authority asked the public to step up self-protection measures amid concern over people-to-people transmission. The commission also asked people not to hunt and eat animals that could trigger plague infections.

The panel called for reporting of any findings of sick or dead marmots and other animals, and report suspected plague cases, patients with high fever due to unknown reasons, and sudden deaths.

The bubonic plague is a highly contagious and often fatal disease that gets spread mostly by rodents. These outbreaks have become rare in China, with 26 cases and 11 deaths between 2009 and 2018, according to Reuters. It is characterised by swollen lymph nodes and may be hard to identify in its early stages as flu-like symptoms commonly develop after three to seven days.