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Central & South Asia

Kyrgyzstan boy dies of bubonic plague

Health officials confirm 15-year-old's death was caused by the rodent-borne disease, but say an epidemic is unlikely.

Last Modified: 27 Aug 2013 05:12
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Doctors in Kyrgyzstan have said a teenage boy has died of bubonic plague, but that an epidemic is not likely.

The death of the 15-year-old herder was confirmed on Monday, several days after his death in the Karakol regional hospital.

Health ministers said the boy, from the small mountain village Ichke-Zhergez in eastern Kyrgyzstan, died last Thursday after being diagnosed with bubonic plague, which is carried by rodents and caused millions of deaths throughout Europe in the 14th century.

"After a meeting of doctors, he was diagnosed with bubonic plague," a statement said.

His body was cremated and remains were buried with special precautions.

"We suspect that the patient was infected with the plague through the bite of a flea," Tolo Isakov, a ministry official who heads the sanitation department, said in Bishkek on Monday.

The oriental rat flea carries the bubonic plague after biting an infected rodent and may then pass the disease to a human.

Officials have dispatched two teams to the area to "catch, exterminate, and study rodents," Isakov said.

He said the last recorded case of bubonic plague occurred in Kyrgyzstan 30 years ago.

Dinara Saginbayeva, health minister, sought to dispel fears of an epidemic.

"There will not be a bubonic plague epidemic," she said.

"The form of the disease in the teenager is not conducive to a plague epidemic. So there are no grounds for closing the borders."

Officials have hospitalised and isolated 105 people who have had contact with the deceased, including doctors and medical staff that treated the boy, the minister said.

Doctors are also administering antibiotics in the area.

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