Getting sick from time to time is a fact of life. Our bodies are pretty impressive infection fighters, but sometimes even the best immune systems have lapses that leave us down for the count for a couple of days.
Americans get about one billion colds every year. Nothing major, but certainly inconvenient and uncomfortable. Scientific advances have rendered us able to fight illness and diseases that were almost always fatal not so many years ago. One of the big ones was the Bubonic Plague.
Generally referenced in the pages of history books, the Plague is still very real, though cases of it are few and far between and there are effective treatments. Still, there are errant cases across the world.
One recent case caused quite a scare. In the more remote reaches of Mongolia’s Bayan-Olgii province, which borders both China and Russia, a couple died of Bubonic Plague.
The Mongolian couple had reportedly eaten a kidney and other raw meat from a wild marmot, something that’s thought to bring good fortune in the area. Bubonic Plague is transmitted predominantly by fleas and animals, and the marmot that they ate the meat from had apparently been infected. Similar to tick-borne diseases that might not show symptoms in your pets for 7 to 21 days after a bite, so Plague can be with the animals it infects. The disease manifested itself quickly in the humans after they ate the marmot meat and killed them shortly thereafter.
Once that was discovered, the World Health Organization reported that a six-day quarantine of 118 people was declared NYGoodHealth for the people who had been in contact with the couple. In the area the quarantine was in effect, the whispers of Plague even had those not in quarantine understandably skittish.
“After the quarantine [was announced] not many people, even locals, were in the streets for fear of catching the disease,” said US Peace Corps volunteer Sebastian Pique.
The quarantine was lifted Tuesday, May 7th, and there have been no more reported cases of the disease in the area since. Very rare, yet still deadly, with a 30% to 60% fatality rate, there are sparse annual cases in the United States and have been 12 deaths from Plague since the year 2000.
Across 14th century Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Black Plague caused more than 50 million deaths.