A Mongolian man died from the plague, the Ministry of Health announced, raising fears that the country could experience a large-scale outbreak of the disease.
The 42-year-old man from Khovd province in western Mongolia succumbed to the typhoon on Tuesday night. The Ministry of Health said the victim bought two dead ground squirrels, believed to carry disease-transmitting fleas, right before their death.
Hunting marmots is illegal in Mongolia, but many see the animal as a delicacy and eliminate associated health risks. So far this year, 12 lab confirmed plague cases have been registered in the country. Last month, a 15-year-old boy died of the disease.
In July, Mongolia quarantined an entire area after it was found that two people had symptoms of the plague. The country̵7;s National Center for Zoonotic Diseases reported that 17 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces were at risk of an outbreak.
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However, the threat to neighboring countries like Russia is almost non-existent. The disease is not spread from person to person, nor is it contagious. It spreads from animal to animal through fleas. Vladimir Nikiforov, chief expert on infectious diseases at the Russian Federal Biomedical Agency, recently described the plague as “Absolutely no threat.”
If left untreated, the plague is potentially fatal. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache and vomiting.
In the 14th century, the plague and its variants, then known as the Black Death, killed 200 million people worldwide. This disease is much less common today, usually only 650 cases are reported each year globally.
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