A couple in Mongolia died earlier this month from the bubonic plague that they contracted after eating a marmot’s kidney raw, believing that it would give them good health, according to the AFP. The Washington Post reports that the two also ate the gall bladder and stomach raw.
The couple, who were in their late 30s, had fevers, Ariuntuy Ochirpurev of the World Health Organization told The Washington Post. After the husband died a week after he came down with a fever, his wife wound up in the ICU because she was vomiting blood. Lab tests confirmed they both had the plague. They are survived by their four kids, who are 9 months to 14 years old.
Their deaths from the plague led to a six-day quarantine in the Bayan-Olgii province of Mongolia that impacted 118 people who had come into contact with them prior to their deaths. That number included seven tourists. Everyone was treated for prophylaxis with antibiotics, according to the BBC.
“After the quarantine [was announced], not many people — even locals — were in the streets for fear of catching the disease, Sebastian Pique, a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corp who was living in the area told the AFP.
Ochirpurev told The Washington Post that the quarantine ended on May 6, and there have been no new cases of the plague since.
According to the CDC, the plague is transmitted to humans via fleas or touching an animal that is infected. Symptoms include fever, headache, chills, weakness, and swollen and painful lymph notes. It can be treated with common antibiotics.
Ochirpurev told The Washington Post that of the nine cases of plague in Mongolia between 1989 and 2010, all of the infected had been in contact with marmots, large squirrel-like rodents that can weigh up to 15 pounds.