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Boy dies of bubonic plague after eating barbecued marmot in Kyrgyzstan


A teenage boy has died of bubonic plague in Kyrgyzstan after reportedly eating an infected barbecued marmot.

The 15-year-old, named as Temir Issakunov, came from a mountain village in the north-east of the country, close to the border with Kazakhstan.

The boy fell ill after eating the rodent with family and friends in Ichke-Zhergez.

It has also been claimed he may have become infected after being bitten by a flea.

Health officials said the boy died in the Karakol regional hospital and more than 100 people, including 19 doctors, have been put in quarantine.

Marmots are carriers of bubonic plague (Picture: AP Photo/Great Falls Tribune, Robin Loznak)

His body was cremated and his remains were buried with ‘special precautions’.

The teenager died last week, but doctors have only now diagnosed the cause.

More than 2,000 people are being tested for bubonic plague while checkpoints have been set up and travel and livestock transport restricted.

Doctors have also been prescribing antibiotics in the area and are trying to track down anyone who may have eaten the food.

Kazakhstan is reported to have tightened border controls to prevent the disease entering its territory.

A statement from Kyrgyzstan’s health ministry said that an epidemic was ‘unlikely’, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

The last recorded case of bubonic plague in the country occurred 30 years ago, health minister Dinara Saginbayeva said.

‘The form of the disease in the teenager is not conducive to a plague epidemic,’ she said.


The boy lived in a mountain village in Kyrgyzstan (Picture:AFP/Getty Images)

Bubonic plague, known as the Black Death when it killed an estimated 25million people in Europe during the Middle Ages, is now rare.

It is normally transmitted by flea bite but can also be transmitted by exposure to the flesh of an infected animal.

Marmots are a natural carrier of the disease and were targeted for extermination in the former Soviet Union.

But the authorities in Kyrgyzstan stopped poisoning them from 1982 onwards due to the costs involved, Interfax said.

According to the World Health Organization, the last significant outbreak of bubonic plague was in Peru in 2010 when 12 people were found to have been infected.