Kyrgyzstan Bubonic Plague Strikes 4, Might Be Start of Epidemic

Wednesday, 28 Aug 2013 07:46 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Health officials are worried that Kyrgyzstan may be on the brink of a bubonic plague epidemic, now that three more people have shown symptoms of the disease after a rural teenager died last week.

Temirbek Isakunov, a 15-year-old herdboy from the village of Ichke-Zhergez, died Thursday after being treated for the bubonic plague. He is thought to have contracted the disease after being bitten by an oriental flea carried on a marmot he was preparing to eat.

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Bubonic plague is named after the buboes — or swollen lymph nodes — that typically develop within a week after an infected flea or rodent bites a victim, followed by a sudden onset of fever and chills, headache, fatigue or malaise, and muscle aches. The disease is suspected of killing some 25 million people in Europe in the 14th century.

Now, a woman, a toddler, and another teenager — all from the same village as Isakunov — are displaying similar symptoms, Agence France-Presse reported.

Officials isolated 131 people as of Tuesday to prevent the possible spread of the disease, Asylbek Sydykanov, the ministry's public health official, told news outlets. Emergency workers are also going door-to-door in the village to search for other people who might be infected.

The health ministry is carefully monitoring the borders of Kyrgyzstan and has also warned citizens against traveling to the country "until the epidemiological situation regarding the plague is stabilized."

The last reported case of the bubonic plague in Kyrgyzstan was 30 years ago, according to the Telegraph.

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