Two brothers have contracted the deadly bubonic plague after feasting on the meat of rodents.
The men, from Mongolia, are said to have have contracted the deadly disease from marmots – in a country where consuming the innards of the animals is traditionally believed to be good for your health.
Pansoch Buyainbat, 27, and his brother, 17, are being treated in separate hospitals in Khovd province in western Mongolia.
The older brother is in a “critical” condition.
The cases have now sparked urgent checks on 146 people with whom they were in contact.
Health officials now face a big task ahead of them as it’s believed 500 people may already be affected, say reports.
The bacterial infection can kill adults within 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Major security precautions have been put into operation amid fears of a spread.
The plague is spread by fleas living on wild rodents such as marmots, a large type of squirrel.
The country’s National Centre for Zoonotic Diseases confirmed that bubonic plague had been diagnosed and emergency meetings have been set up.
It is a recurrent problem in the East Asian nation.
A couple died of bubonic plague in the western Mongolian province of Bayan-Ulgii in April 2019, after eating raw marmot meat.
It prompted authorities to warn against eating raw marmot because it can carry Yersinia pestis , the plague germ.
The plague is spread by marmots coughing or through the bite of the tarbagan flea they carry, or through consumption of their meat.
Marmots are rodents and the heaviest member of the squirrel family.
Up to 200 million people were killed by the Black Death, or the bubonic plague in the 14th Century.
It is primarily spread by fleas and causes swelling of the lymph nodes. The more contagious form is pneumonic plague, which can be transmitted between humans through coughing.