Mongolia lifts quarantine after couple dies from eating raw marmot meat


American Peace Corps volunteer Sebastian Pique said that after it was announced that there was a quarantine, people did not want to leave their homes for fear of catching the plague.

A Mongolian couple died of the bubonic plague - reportedly after eating raw marmot - prompting a six-day quarantine that left a number of tourists stranded in the region.

It was reported that dozens of tourists from Russia, Germany and the U.S. were unable to leave the area for a period because of the quarantine.

A six-day quarantine was declared on May 1 following their deaths in Mongolia's western Bayan Olgii province bordering both China and Russian Federation.

Health authorities have for years warned people against eating marmot as they are believed to carry Yersinia pestis, the bubonic plague germ, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported. The health authorities decided, as a precautionary measure, all persons who had direct or indirect contact with two Victims under quarantine.

The ethnic Kazakh couple died from the bubonic plague last week after eating meat from a marmot, which is a type of large squirrel.

Reports say quarantine was declared on May 1st following the deaths, but this was lifted on Monday.

Marmots are a known carrier of the plague bacteria and hunting them is illegal.

Human cases were rare but can be deadly unless treated with antibiotics.

Bubonic plague is the most common form of plague and is caused by the bite of an infected flea. Pneumonic plague, which is more severe but less frequent, spreads to the lungs and can be transmitted via coughing.

In previous centuries plague outbreaks killed millions in Europe and Asia.