Kyrgyzstan, for those who don’t know, is a small, landlocked country in central Asia. It is mountainous, Russian-speaking, and bordered by neighbors Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. The country is unassuming and, despite a plethora of political unrest and upheaval, does not tend to draw international attention to itself. That all changed last week, however, when a young, rural boy was hospitalized with bubonic plague, which he eventually died from.
The boy, Temirbek Isakunov, was fifteen years old when he died last Thursday as a result of having the bubonic plague. He hailed from a small town known as Ichke-Zhergez, and he reportedly contracted the deadly, ancient disease after being bitten by an infected flea.
Three other people from the same village were hospitalized on Tuesday at about 12:30 AM under suspicion of also contracting the disease. Allegedly, these three individuals consist of a woman, teenager, and toddler who had contact with Temirbek Isakunov. The three are said to have experienced symptoms of the plague such as fevers and swollen lymph nodes; they have asked to remain anonymous for now.
As of Tuesday, government officials have isolated 131 people in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease. Doctors are handing out antibiotics to those possibly effected in order to combat the plague. Officials have also assigned two teams to search for rats that might be carrying the disease. The Health Minister, Dinara Saginbayeva, has done her best to dispel fears of of an epedimic. She was quoted as saying, “There will not be a bubonic plague epidemic. The form of the disease in the teenager is not conducive to a plague epidemic. So there are no grounds for closing the borders.”
The ministry head of the sanitation department, Tolo Isakov, noted in a press conference that the last known outbreak of bubonic plague occurred 30 years ago, also in Kyrgyzstan. The disease is much more common in animals than in humans, and the particular strain has relations to the infamous “black death” that swept Europe during the dark ages.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia common license.