Russia vaccinates thousands against bubonic plague amid outbreak fears

Russia has vaccinated thousands of people against the bubonic plague amid fears of a "Black Death" outbreak in the west of the country.

The disease has been detected in the Altai Mountains, a popular Siberian tourist region.

Approximately 18,090 people have been immunised in the Altai Republic after the spread in marmots and other rodents, health officials confirmed.

Earlier this week, the bubonic plague spread by fleas was detected in southern districts of Tuva Republic.

Regional chief Sholban Kara-ool has ordered the immunisation of 14,000 people living close to the source.

"The disease is dangerous," he said, insisting that everyone aged over two must be immunised.

The westward spread into Altai has been detected in five locations so far.

“A particularly alarming aspect is the detection of the epizootic plague…. on the Ukok plateau in the Kosh-Agach district, for the first time in more than 60-year s of observation,” said Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s health watchdog.

The mountainous area “is visited by a large number of tourists” but also livestock breeders.

“Infection of people is possible, first of all, when cutting marmots after poaching, or through the bites of infected fleas and ticks that remain in the holes of rodents after their death from the plague.”

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The organisation said: “In order to prevent this dangerous disease in the Altai Republic, 18,090 people were vaccinated against plague, including 16,500 people in Kosh-Agach district.”

The entire local camel population was also vaccinated.

Warnings have been sent to local hotels and campsites.

Earlier this week, a 42-year-old was killed by the plague in Khovd province of Mongolia.

He died after purchasing two infected marmot rodents, and the local district of Jargalant was afterwards sealed off.

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In July, a 15-year-old boy died from the plague in Mongolia.

In China’s Inner Mongolia, two deaths from the plague have also been recorded.

Two other Russian regions are taking action against the killer disease – TransBaikal and Buryatia.

Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease spread by fleas living on wild rodents like marmots.

It kills in less than 24 hours if not treated promptly.

Up to 200 million people were killed by the Black Death, brought on by bubonic plague, in the 14th century.

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