Mongolia has quarantined its western region near the border with Russia after fears surfaced of the bubonic plague spreading, said health officials. The two suspected cases so far have been linked to the consumption of marmot meat and are now being hospitalized in the Khovd province in western Mongolia.
One is said to be in critical condition. The two infected individuals were confirmed to have the “marmot plague” by lab tests, Mongolia’s National Center for Zoonotic Disease (NCZD) said in a statement.
The NCZD also announced that it had quarantined the provincial capital and one of the region’s districts about 500 kilometers south of the southern Siberian republics of Tyva and Altai.
The organization is now tracking the individuals that came in contact with the two infected cases. It has so far found 504 second-contact individuals and has analyzed samples from 146 people.
The bubonic plague is an extremely dangerous bacterial infection that can kill its victims within 24 hours. It is spread by fleas living on wild animals.
This is not the first incident of the plague in Mongolia and specifically on the Russian border. In May of 2019, Mongolia also closed a key border over fears of spreading the plague after a husband and wife died from eating marmot meat.
The plague is said to kill about 2,000 people a year and is believed to be of the same strain that killed 50 million people in the 14th century.