Tourists trapped in Mongolia after couple die eating infected marmot

Henrietta Brewer
May 9, 2019

It was reported that dozens of tourists from Russia, Germany and the USA were unable to leave the area for a period because of the quarantine.

The ethnic Kazakh couple died on May 1 in Mongolia's westernmost province of Bayan-Ulgii, which borders Russian Federation and China. Between 1000 and 2000 cases are reported to the World Health Organization every year.

The 118 people who came in contact with the couple - including seven tourists from Switzerland, Sweden, Kazakhstan and South Korea - were isolated and treated with antibiotics as a precautionary measure, Ochirpurev said.

The couple had eaten the meat of the marmot, a type of rodent, as it was thought to be a remedy for good health, it was reported. The quarantine was lifted on May 7, 2019.

The rodent is a known carrier of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium commonly associated with the highly contagious bubonic plague.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) said the Bubonic plague could be spread by animals and fleas infected with the disease such as rats, prairie dogs, rabbits, and squirrels.

A spokesperson for the ministry said that "according to ministry information, their [the Swiss tourists] health is not in danger, and they will be able to leave the region soon".

Symptoms of the bubonic plague are swelling of the lymph nodes, weakness, chills, headache, and fever.

The plague was responsible for millions of deaths in Europe and Asia in the 14th century. Deaths from the plague still occur today, but are much rarer.

The more virulent form is pneumonic plague, which can be transmitted between humans through coughing.

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