Police in northern Mongolia have seized 12 dead marmots from a vehicle, which could have spread the deadly bubonic plague, the country’s Ecological Police Department said on Wednesday.
The dead animals were found on Tuesday in a vehicle in the Tarialan Soum (district) of Khuvsgul Province, the police department said, urging the public not to hunt marmots or eat marmot meat to prevent the spread of bubonic plague.
Since the beginning of this year, 11 suspected cases of bubonic plague have been reported across the landlocked Asian country, three of which were confirmed by laboratory tests, according to the country’s National Centre for Zoonotic Diseases (NCZD).
The NCZD said that 17 out of Mongolia’s 21 provinces are now at risk of bubonic plague.
Although hunting marmots is illegal in Mongolia, many Mongolians regard the rodent as a delicacy and ignore the law.
The bubonic plague is a bacterial disease that can be spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots. The disease can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organization.