Up to 17 out of all 21 provinces of Mongolia were currently at risk of the bubonic plague, a senior official of the country's National Center for Zoonotic Diseases (NCZD) said Thursday.
Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease that is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots. It can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"A total of 137 soums (administrative subdivisions) of 17 provinces in the country are now risk areas of bubonic plague or natural homes of the zoonotic disease. Especially, western provinces such as Bayan-Ulgii, Govi-Altai, Khovd and Uvs have been regarded as high-risk areas of the plague," Bandikhuu Amgalanbayar, deputy director of the NCZD, told Xinhua in an interview.
Several cases of bubonic plague are recorded in Mongolia annually. Mongolia's Health Ministry announced earlier this month that two suspected cases of bubonic plague reported in Khovd Province have been confirmed by lab test results.
Last year, a couple died from bubonic plague in Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia after eating raw marmot meat, although hunting marmots is illegal in Mongolia.
According to the WHO, over 30 new human pathogens have been detected in the last three decades, 75 percent of which have originated in animals.
"This year, we are planning to vaccinate more than 32,000 people who are at risk of being infected with bubonic plague. Currently, the immunization rate is over 60 percent," Amgalanbayar said.
In addition, Mongolia has been actively cooperating with China, Russia, and Kazakhstan in the fight against zoonotic diseases, said the director.