Black Death returns: Herder dies of bubonic plague in Kyrgyzstan after being bitten by infected flea

Death of Temir Issakunov is the first case of bubonic plague in the country for over 30 years

A 15-year-old Kyrgyzstani herder has died of bubonic plague after being bitten by a flea – the first case of Black Death in the country for over 30 years.

In an effort to calm fears of an epidemic, an emergency quarantine zone has been set-up to contain around 100 people who may have contracted the disease.

In the Middle Ages, bubonic plague is thought to have killed between 75 and 200 million people, with the pandemic of the 1340s and 1350s considered among the most devastating in human history – leaving between 30 and 60% of Europe’s total population dead.

Temir Issakunov is thought to have died after being bitten by an infected flea while he herded livestock in a remote village in the north east of Kyrgyzstan – a mountainous country in central Asia. Initial reports that he died after eating a barbecued marmot are believed to be false.

Issakunov died last week, but tests on his body have only just revealed his cause of death to be bubonic plague.

Tolo Isakov, an official from Kyrgyzstan’s health ministry, said teams of pest control agents have been sent into the area to kill rats and other rodents that may be harbouring the disease.

He added that around 2,000 local people face compulsory tests to see if they are infected with bubonic plague, with antibiotics prescribed to anyone suffering its symptoms.

Checkpoints have also been set-up to monitor and contain the movement of livestock in the remote region, with landlocked Kyrgyzstan’s borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China subject to rigorous controls.

The Black Death pandemic that peaked in 1348-1350 is believed to have started in the mountains in and around Kyrgyzstan, spreading along the Eurasian, Silk Road-trading route before eventually reaching Europe.

Its destructive effects on the European population led to a number of societal, political and religious upheavals, as personal freedom and social mobility improved among a shell-shocked, God-questioning population suddenly lacking rigid community leadership structures.

The first definitive reference to bubonic plague was the Plague of Justinian, which devastated the population of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 541-542 AD.

Sporadic outbreaks of bubonic plague were reported in Europe until the mid-19th century, with the last serious non-European outbreak in 2010, when 12 people were found to have been infected in Peru.

Bubonic plague can now be treated with antibiotics, with the mortality rate reduced to between 1% and 15% in treated cases.

Speed of care remains vital however, with antibiotic treatment required within 12-24-hours of the first symptoms in order to prevent the mortality rate rising to between 40% and 60%.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat