Kyrgyzstan bubonic plague: The terrifying bubonic plague has resurfaced in a country in Central Asia, claiming one life thus far. A 15-year-old from the republic of Kyrgyzstan has died within days of contact with the plague. The report of the boy succumbing to bubonic plague has the country in a health alert lock-down, reports BBC News Asia on Aug. 27.
The bubonic plague bacterial infection, which has a high mortality rate and can lead to death only four days after onset, was the cause of the 14th century European Black Death that killed off an estimated 25 million people – one-third to one-half of the population in Europe at that time.
The teenager is believed to have been bitten by a simple flea that was carrying the infection. Following the boy’s death, officials have quarantined over 100 people amid fears of a spreading epidemic.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 400 cases of bubonic plague were reported in 2012, and 90 percent of those stemmed from Africa.
WHO disease expert Dr. Eric Bertherat said the rarity of the disease among developed nations is a contributing factor among the fact physicians are ill-prepared to administer immediate treatment.
“Because bubonic plague is such a rare event, local medical staff are not prepared to diagnose the disease and treat it appropriately,” Dr. Bertherat said. “Which means the first patient usually dies without even a diagnostic. If secondary cases occur, medical staff are aware and better able to treat patients with antibiotics.”
The 15-year-old victim, Temir Issakunov, lived in a remote village near the Kyrgyzstan / Kazakhstan border. Officials believe the flea came from a marmot, a type of mountain squirrel.
The WHO has sent teams to exterminate rodents living in and around the village in an attempt to stem any spread from the bacterium. Transportation and livestock checkpoints have been established, and travel has been restricted as thousands are being tested and quarantined if they show signs of carrying the plague.