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A teenage boy has died in Mongolia after contracting the bubonic plague.
The 15-year-old was infected with the potentially deadly bacteria after eating marmot with two other people. A marmot is a rodent and the heaviest member of the rodent family.
The bacteria can cause death in 24 hours if not treated. It's reported the boy died three days after being infected.
The country's National Centre for Zoonotic Diseases (NCZD) said the boy was located in the western Mongolian province of Govi-Altai. Dozens of people who have been in contact with the teen have been quarantined.
In addition to that, a lockdown has been introduced in five districts in Mongolia to stop the spread.
This is in the wake of two other recent cases of the bubonic plague, which were found in the neighbouring province of Khovd, involving a 27-year-old man and his 17-year-old brother.
Officials have issued a Level 3 warning, the second-lowest in a four-tier system, whereby people are banned from hunting and eating animals that could carry the plague, such as rodents.
The local health authority told China Daily: "At present, there is a risk of a human plague epidemic spreading in this city. The public should improve its self-protection awareness and ability, and report abnormal health conditions promptly."
The Mongolian health ministry has admitted that the recent outbreak of the plague will be of concern for the mountainous Altai regions of China and Russia, who have been put on high alert. Senior official Dorj Narangerel said that it's incredibly important for people in the area not to hunt or eat marmot.
He said: "The marmot plague is very toxic. We urge you to pay special attention to the fact that the pulmonary form of the disease is just as rapid as the coronavirus infection - but it is a disease that can kill people very quickly."
Bubonic plague is caused by a bacterial infection and can be fatal if not treated. However, it is unlikely the disease will proliferate and devastate like it has in previous centuries due to advancements in our understanding and treatment of the plague.
Dr Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told Healthline: "Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted.
"We know how to prevent it - avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission.
"We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."
The disease was responsible for one of the deadliest recorded pandemics in human history: the Black Death. The Black Death pandemic claimed around 50 million lives across Africa, Asia and Europe, and The Great Plague in 1665 wiped out about a fifth of London's population.
Featured Image Credit: National Center for Zoonotic Diseases
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