Bubonic plague case confirmed in Mongolia

Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots.

Ulaanbaatar: A suspected case of bubonic plague reported in Mongolia’s Govi-Altai province has been confirmed as positive, the country’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

“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,” Xinhua news agency quoted Dorj Narangerel, head of public relations and surveillance department of the Ministry, as saying to the media.

The teenager on Sunday died in Tugrug district on the way to a hospital.

He was found to have eaten marmot meat with two of his friends three days before his death, according to the health ministry.

His two friends and 15 others who had contact with them have been isolated and treated at local hospitals, the official said, warning citizens not to eat marmot meat.

Bubonic Plague

A rare but serious bacterial infection that’s transmitted by fleas. The bubonic plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis. It can spread through contact with infected fleas. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, which can be as large as chicken eggs, in the groin, armpit or neck. They may be tender and warm. Others include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Bubonic plague requires urgent hospital treatment with strong antibiotics. It can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organization.

In May 2019, two people in the country of Mongolia died from the plague, which they contracted after eating the raw meat of a marmot – the same type of rodent the second suspected case came into contact with.

Bubonic plague was responsible for one of the deadliest epidemics in human history – the Black Death – which killed about 50 million people across Africa, Asia and Europe in the 14th Century, a BBC report said.

There have been a handful of large outbreaks since.

It killed about a fifth of London’s population during the Great Plague of 1665, while more than 12 million died in outbreaks during the 19th Century in China and India.

But nowadays it can be treated by antibiotics. Left untreated, the disease, which is typically transmitted from animals to humans by fleas, has a 30-60 per cent fatality rate.

Symptoms of the plague include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin.

Bubonic cases are rare, but there are still a few flare-ups of the disease from time to time.

Madagascar saw more than 300 cases during an outbreak in 2017. However, a study in the medical journal The Lancet found less than 30 people died.

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