TSAGAANNUUR, Mongolia – A Mongolian couple fell victim to an old wives’ tale, literally, and subsequently caused a quarantine that closed down a small mountainous town in western Mongolia on the border with China and Russia, according to news reports.
The married pair ate raw meat from a marmot, or large squirrel, including the kidney, gall bladder and stomach of the creature, according to The Washington Post.
They both became ill and died last month from plague, prompting a six-day quarantine in the town of Tsagaannuur, which was lifted Monday after no new cases were found.
The town of Tsagaannuur, located near the border between Mongolia and Russia, was recently sealed off following the deaths of a local couple who contracted the plague from eating the raw meat and organs of an infected marmot https://t.co/JGasrOjb3B
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The couple, the 38-year-old husband and his 37-year-old wife, believed the raw marmot meat and organs were a remedy for good health, the Post reported. And they are apparently not alone. Plague is a common disease in Mongolia and apparently the widest source of infection is “through contact and consumption of the marmot,” the newspaper reported, citing the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
During the Middle Ages, plague killed millions of people in Europe; the disease swept through China in the late 1800s.
A couple from Mongolia died from the plague (which wiped out 60% of Europe in the 1300s) after hunting a marmot and eating it raw because they thought it was good for health, reports @AFP. pic.twitter.com/zNGrZwidrM
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Of the three forms of the plague, only one is contagious. Pneumonic plague is easily spread through the air by coughing. Bubonic and septicemic are the other two forms of plague and they are not contagious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague, but without prompt treatment, the disease can still cause serious illness and death.
The couple left behind four children between 9 months and 14 years old.
— Calgary Sun (@calgarysun) May 9, 2019
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