The world was facing more than 13 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 last Tuesday and when many countries seem to be far from containing the infections, a new threat arises: the bubonic plague that has already left the first fatality in Mongolia.
A 15-year-old boy died in Mongolia of bubonic plague, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua. This Tuesday it was revealed that post-mortem tests confirmed that the young man contracted the disease after eating an infected marmot.
The government imposed a quarantine in part of the Gobi-Altai province and the fifteen people who had contact with the deceased were isolated, according to the Mongolian Ministry of Health.
Authorities had previously indicated that they would maintain the alert until the end of 2020 in the Bayannur region of Inner Mongolia and asked the population not to eat marmots and report the findings of dead animals.
Squirrel Tests Positive for Bubonic Plague in Colorado
ABC News reported Tuesday that over the weekend, a squirrel found in the town of Morrison, Colorado, USA, tested positive for bubonic plague: the squirrel is the first case of plague in the county.
The authorities did not specify in what situation the animal was found or how it contracted the disease that caused the deadliest pandemic in history, with at least 200 million deaths in the Middle Ages.
Following the finding, authorities called on pet owners who suspect their animals may be ill to take them to a vet and to undergo strict flea control on their pets to help prevent transfer to humans.
“Plague is an infectious disease caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria, and can be contracted by humans and pets if proper precautions are not taken,” the Jefferson government explained in a statement. “Humans can become infected with plague by bites from infected fleas, by coughing from an infected animal, or by direct contact (for example, through a bite) with blood or tissue from infected animals. Cats are very susceptible to plague and can die if not promptly treated with antibiotics. “
Specialists say that other animals, such as dogs, are not as susceptible to the disease, but they can collect and transport fleas from infected rats.
What is Bubonic Plague?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), epidemics of bubonic plague have occurred in Africa, South America, and Asia.
“The three most endemic countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Peru. In Madagascar, cases of bubonic plague are reported almost every year, during the epidemic season (between September and April), ” says the WHO.
In the United States, it has been present in the northern regions of New Mexico, northern Arizona and southern Colorado, as well as in California, southern Oregon and the far west of Nevada.
Despite the records, the so-called “black plague” is a disease related to the times of the Middle Ages by a plague that devastated Europe between 1,347 and 1,351.
There are three variants.
Bubonic plague is the most frequent form of the disease, in it the lymph nodes become inflamed and cause pain; As the buboes progress, they open and sores form.
The second way is through the bloodstream which can cause sepsis or septicemic plague, characterized by fever, diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. As it progresses, it can cause tissue death in extremities such as fingers, toes, or nose.
If the bacteria infects the lungs it can cause pneumonic plague, a more serious form of the disease that is highly contagious. The symptoms appear within a few hours of infection and progress rapidly. The person can die within two days from respiratory failure and shock.
In the Middle Ages, the great outbreak of “black plague” began in Central Asia and from there went to the Silk Road and reached Crimea in 1343.
Housed in the fleas of black rats, it spread throughout Europe using merchant ships as a means of transport.
Historians estimate that it killed 30% of the European population, but others claim that up to 60% of the population of Europe may have died as a result of the pandemic.
The continent took 200 years to recover its previous level of inhabitants, although some regions, such as Florence and its surroundings, took until the 19th century.
Because of this, hunting and consumption of marmots meat is prohibited in Mongolia, however the population continues to feed on the rodent despite health warnings.