Teenage boy dies from bubonic plague ‘after eating marmot meat’


A 15 year-old boy has died of bubonic plague in Mongolia, according to the country’s health ministry.

The National Centre for Zoonotic Diseases (NCZD) said the teenager from the western province of Govi-Altai had died from eating marmot meat.

A quarantine has now been put in place on five districts in the province, which shares a border with China.

“The result of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test revealed on Monday night that bubonic plague caused the death of a 15-year-old boy,” Dorj Narangerel, a spokesperson for the health ministry, told a press conference.

HEILIGENBLUT AM GROSSGLOCKNER, AUSTRIA - AUGUST 14: A marmot sits on a rock on a mountainside above the retreating Pasterze glacier on August 14, 2019 near Heiligenblut am Grossglockner, Austria. The Pasterze, Austria's largest glacier, has lost over half its volume since 1850 and its tongue, shrinking in both width and depth, has retreated at least 2.6 kilometers. The glacier's retreat is leaving behind exposed land that is giving local flora and fauna new areas to thrive. While the retreat of glaciers across Europe is part of a natural process that began with the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-19th century, the acceleration of the melting since the 1960s is a phenomenon many scientists attribute to human activity that is further warming Earth's climate. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
The plague can jump from marmots to human through flea bites

The death follows the news earlier this month of two people testing positive for the disease in the neighbouring province of Khovd.

The NCZD is currently organising a nationwide immunisation programme to stop the spread of the disease.

Last year, a lockdown was imposed in the Mongolian province of Bayan-Olgii after reports that a couple had died from the bubonic plague after reportedly eating raw marmot meat.

Russia has increased patrols in an attempt to stop people hunting marmots near its border with Mongolia.

China issued a warning last week after a suspected case of bubonic plague was discovered in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

Mongolia's health ministry is organising an immunisation programme to stop the spread of the disease (Credit: National Center for Zoonotic Diseases)
Mongolia’s health ministry is organising an immunisation programme to stop the spread of the disease (Credit: National Center for Zoonotic Diseases)

There is no vaccine for the bacterial disease. It is transmitted between animals through their fleas, and humans can be infected by flea bites or from touching infected animals.

Symptoms of the disease, known as the Black Death in the Middle Ages, include a fever, swollen lymph nodes and feeling weak.

Advice from the World Health Organisation says an adult can be killed in less than 24 hours if they are not treated with several types of antibiotics.

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