Couple eats raw rodent meat for 'good health', dies of plague
Ulaanbaatar, May 09: A Mongolian couple has died of the bubonic plague after contracting it when they ate raw marmot meat last week. The unnamed couple, who were ethnically Kazakh, reportedly fell ill April 27 after hunting and eating contaminated marmot, a large species of squirrel, in Mongolia.
They died three days later, leaving behind four kids.
The couple ate the marmot - a type of giant ground squirrel found mostly in North America and Eurasia - under the impression that doing so would bring them good health.
Health authorities have for years warned people against eating marmot as they are believed to carry Yersinia pestis, the bubonic plague germ, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported.
The Black Death wiped out millions of people in the Middle Ages but cases are now very rare.
Its most common form is bubonic, which is spread by fleas and causes swelling of the lymph node. The more virulent form is pneumonic plague, which can be transmitted between humans through coughing.
Bubonic plague can be transmitted via infected fleas and animals, like prairie dogs, squirrels, rats and rabbits, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Throughout history, plague epidemics have caused widespread death around the globe in certain periods.
While modern antibiotics can now treat the disease and prevent its spread, infections in humans do still occur in parts of the western United States as well as in Africa and Asia, the CDC says.