A 15-year-old boy has died in western Mongolia of bubonic plague after eating an infected marmot, the country’s health ministry announced.

Health officials reported that two other teenagers who ate the marmot are being treated and fifteen people who had contact with the boy were isolated and given antibiotics. The government has also imposed a quarantine on part of the Gobi-Altai province, where the cases occurred.

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Plague can be passed through rodents or fleas to humans, but the disease can also be spread from person to person. The disease is responsible for the deadliest pandemic in human history with an estimated 50 million deaths in the Middle Ages. If treated quickly enough, modern antibiotics can prevent complications and death. Still, it is a major threat to both humans and animals.

Marmots are large rodents that live in burrows in the North Asian grasslands. The Mongolian government warned the public not to hunt or eat marmots. Mongolia has recorded 513 deaths out of 692 cases of plague from marmot from 1928 to 2018. The Russian embassy in Mongolia commented that despite the warnings local residents “continue to hunt them and eat them, as this is a local delicacy.”

The plague recently resurged with cases reported in China, Mongolia, and the US. The World Health Organization categorized the plague as a re-emerging disease with approximately 1,000 to 2,000 cases every year which even doesn’t include unreported cases.

Read more of our coverage on the bubonic plague in Mongolia and about the relationship between meat and coronavirus.

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Catch up on our latest coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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