A group of tourists is stranded indefinitely in Mongolia after two Russians on holiday died from the bubonic plague in April. Citizens from the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, Germany, and Russia are being kept quarantined to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease. Authorities have not released the number of U.S. citizens currently being detained. Most of the tourists are on lockdown in the town of Uglii.
Mongolia is an Asian country famed for its expansive landscapes and nomadic culture, that is bordered by China and Russia and is a popular destination for adventure seekers Although the country is roughly the same size as western and central Europe, it only has a population of approximately three million people. Uglii is a remote town in Mongolia’s western region best known for its ancient tradition of hunting with eagles.
The Husband and Wife Ate Contaminated That Meat They had Illegally Hunted
The Mongolian Ministry of Health confirms that the two unnamed Russian tourists, a 38-year-old man health authorities are calling “Citizen T” and his pregnant wife, 37, both contracted bubonic plague after illegally hunting and eating the raw meat and internal organs of a marmot. The husband died on April 27 and his wife died three days later. Bubonic plague can be treated successfully with antibiotics if it’s immediately diagnosed.
The couple was taking part in an ancient Mongolian tradition of eating marmot, which is believed to instill greater health and stamina. “Despite the fact that eating marmots is banned, Citizen T hunted marmot,” Dr. N. Tsogbadrakh, director of the National Center for Zoonotic Dermatology and Medicine, told the Siberian Times.“He ate the meat and gave it to his wife, and they died because the plague affected his stomach. Four children are orphaned,” he added, referring to the couples children spanning in age from two to 13.
Marmots are species of large squirrel that lives in the mountainous regions of Europe, northwestern Asia, Pakistan and India and throughout the western United States. Mongolia prohibits the hunting and eating of marmots as a health precaution.
Bubonic Plague Can Kill in Less Than 24 Hours
Bubonic plague is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis which is typically spread by fleas living on wild rodents. Also known as “The Black Death,” bubonic plague is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 75-200 million people, or 30%-60% of Europe’s population, between 1347-1351. The disease can kill a human being in less than 24 hours.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms of the bubonic plague include sudden fever, headache, chills, and weakness. The lymph nodes also become tender and swollen. There can also be a blackening of the hands, feet, and nose as body tissues begin to die.
Bubonic plague is most common in central Asia and Madagascar. Approximately 1-17 cases of cases are reported annually in the United States and are usually contained to the southwest where people are most likely to come into contact with infected prairie dogs and marmots.
Passengers on a Flight from Uglii Are Also Being Quarantined
Photos are now coming out of passengers on Hunnu Air, a commercial flight coming into the capital of Ulaanbaatar from Uglii, being examined by health officials wearing hazmat suits.
Eleven of the flight’s 158 passengers who had been staying in Uglii were taken to a nearby hospital while other passengers were examined at a location near the airport. Forbes is reporting that Mongolia’s National Centre for Communicable Diseases and Specialised Border Inspection carried out the physical exams.
The Border Between Russia and Mongolia is Currently Closed to Prevent the Plague’s Spread
The Moscow Times is reporting that Mongolian authorities have shut down the main border crossing between Russia and Mongolia, stranding Russian citizens who were visiting the neighboring country. Several news agencies are reporting that a few of the tourists, worried about an indefinite stay in Mongolia, have been plotting an escape.