The bubonic plague might sound like a disease of the past, more threatening to people of the 14th century than those of the modern day, but it’s far from being eradicated. A Mongolian couple, a 38-year-old man and his pregnant wife, 37, died on May 1 of the bubonic plague after eating raw marmot kidney.
The case took place in the province of Bayan-Ulgii in the far west of the country, on the border of Russia and China, sparking a six-day quarantine of the town of Ulgii that left foreign visitors stranded in the remote region.
The Guardian explains that the quarantine was to be lifted yesterday (Monday) if no other case of the disease was reported.
People are warned against eating raw marmot meat, which can carry Yersinia pestis, the plague germ. The germ exists in rodents and their fleas and, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, can be found in animals such as rock squirrels, wood rats, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, mice, voles, and rabbits. Carnivores can become infected by eating infected animals.
The CDC reports that one to 10 cases of bubonic plague are reported every year in Mongolia and that in “recent decades, an average of seven human plague cases have been reported each year (range: 1–17 cases per year)” in the US.