2 people infected with bubonic plague after eating marmot meat in Mongolia

A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that the organization did not consider an apparent outbreak of the bubonic plague in China as high risk, saying it's being 'well managed.'

Mongolia has quarantined a region near the border of Russia after two suspected cases of bubonic plague from eating marmot meat were confirmed.

A statement released by Mongolia’s National Center for Zoonotic Disease (NCZD) said the lab tests confirmed two unidentified individuals had contracted what they call “marmot plague” in the Khovd province.

The centre confirmed it has collected samples from 146 first-contact individuals and notified 504 second contacts. Samples are to be analyzed.

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The siblings are thought to be ages 27 and 16, and it’s believed they caught the wild animal and consumed it, contracting the disease, the Independent reports.

A sheepherder in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia was confirmed on Sunday to have contracted the plague, according to a statement released by the Bayannaoer City Health Commission.

The commission, per the New York Times, issues a third-level alert to warn people against hunting, eating or transporting potentially infected animals, especially marmots.

Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), recently said: “Bubonic plague has been with us and is always with us, for centuries. We are looking at the case numbers in China. It’s being well managed.”

“At the moment, we are not considering it high risk but we’re watching it, monitoring it carefully.”

Last year, a Mongolian couple died of the plague after eating raw marmot kidney in the Bayan-Ulgii province, which borders Russia and China.

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The bubonic plague is caused by bacterial infection, usually transmitted from animals to humans by fleas, and was responsible for the Black Death, which killed around 50 million people across the world in the 14th century.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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