A Mongolian couple died after eating raw rodent meat intended as a "folk remedy," BBC reports. When the two individuals who ate the meat passed away, it was revealed that they had contracted the bubonic plague. A six-day quarantine was declared on May 1 in the Bayan Olgii province in Mongolia, which sits by the borders to both China and Russia.
The couple reportedly ate the raw meat because it was supposed to bring good health, as Ariuntuya Ochirpurev of the World health Organisation explained. The rodent the pair ate was a marmot, which has been known to carry the plague. It's rare for the bubonic plague to show up in humans these days, but unless treated with antibiotics, it proves to be deadly. The plague terrorized Europe and Asia centuries ago, with rats and other rodents carrying it, resulting in the death of millions.
118 people had reportedly come into contact with the couple, including tourists from Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. "After the quarantine [was announced] not many people, even locals, were in the streets for fear of catching the disease," US Peace Corps volunteer Sebastian Pique said. Those who had interacted with the couple were treated with antibiotics for prophylaxis, although the quarantine has since been lifted and everyone has been permitted to leave.
If left untreated, the bubonic plague has a 30 to 60 percent fatality rate. The last time a case was reported in Mongolia was in 2017; however, from 1989 to 1997, there were 69 cases in the country, with 22 resulting in death.