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Mongolian teen dies of bubonic plague caught from infected marmot

Beijing — A 15-year-old boy has died in western Mongolia of bubonic plague, the country's national news agency reported. The Health Ministry said laboratory tests confirmed the teenager died of plague that he contracted from an infected marmot, according to the Montsame News Agency.

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A marmot peers out from rocks in a file photo taken in Juneau, Alaska. Becky Bohrer/AP

The case prompted the government to impose a quarantine on a portion of the province of Gobi-Altai. Montsame said 15 people who had contact with the boy were isolated.

In an unrelated case in neighboring China, a patient who was infected with plague in the northern region of Inner Mongolia is improving, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua said 15 people who had close contact with the patient were released from quarantine on Sunday. The agency said the government ended its top-level emergency response.

An official announcement earlier said a warning for the public in the Bayannur region of Inner Mongolia to avoid eating marmot and to report dead animals would last through the end of 2020.

China has largely eradicated plague, but occasional cases are still reported, especially among hunters coming into contact with fleas carrying the bacterium. The last major known outbreak was in 2009, when several people died in the town of Ziketan in Qinghai province on the Tibetan Plateau.

Along with the coronavirus, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, China has dealt with African swine fever, which has devastated pig herds over the last year.

China has gone weeks without reporting a new death from the coronavirus.

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