The Moscow Times reports that a 15-year old boy has died after eating a barbecued groundhog infected with the bubonic plague.
Now over 100 people, including 19 doctors who were in contact with the boy over the last few days, are in quarantine and are undergoing preventative treatment.
As I have noted on this blog in the past, Tarvag, or Mongolian groundhogs, are the natural host for the black rat flea that carries the Yersinia pestis bacterium that causes bubonic plague.
Tarvag were targeted for extermination in the old Soviet Union as a means of bubonic plague prevention, but the Kyrgyz authorities stopped the poisoning in 1982 due to its costs.
Now, a mass extermination of groundhogs will be carried out in the Sary-Dzhaz region of Kyrgyzstan, and epidemiologists will try to determine how far the plague has spread within the native marmot population.
Plague is nothing new to the United States. Or, at least, it's nothing new since Chinese illegal immigrants first brought it to the west coast just before the San Francisco Earthquake of 1907.
Now plague is endemic to the Prairie Dog towns of the American west, even as it has disappeared in much of the rest of the world due to the rise of the Brown Rat which has, conveniently, displaced the less aggressive Black Rat over much of the globe.