A Mongol man has died from bubonic plague, the country’s Ministry of Health has announced, rebuilding fears the nation could experience a large-scale resurgence of the disease.
A 42-year-old man, from Khovd province in western Mongolia, contracted the disease on Tuesday night. The Ministry of Health said the victim had bought two dead marmots, squirrels which are known to carry fleas that spread the disease, shortly before his death.
Marmot hunting is illegal in Mongolia, but many view the animal as a delicacy and dismiss health-related risks. So far this year, 12 cases confirmed by the bubonic plague laboratory have been registered in the country. Last month, a 15-year-old boy died of the disease.
In July, Mongolia quarantined an entire region after identifying two people with symptoms of bubonic plague. The country̵7;s National Center for Zoonotic Diseases has reported that 17 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces are at risk of an outbreak.
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However, the threat to neighboring countries like Russia is almost non-existent. The disease is not transmitted from one person to another, nor is it contagious. It is spread from one animal to another through fleas. Vladimir Nikiforov, chief infectious disease specialist at Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, recently described the plague as “Absolutely no threat.”
If left untreated, the plague is very deadly. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, and vomiting.
In the 14th century, the plague and its variants, then known as the Black Death, killed 200 million people worldwide. Nowadays it is much less prevalent, with usually only 650 cases registered each year globally.
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