Russian authorities have warned people near the country's border with Mongolia not to hunt or eat marmots, a kind of squirrel whose meat is eaten raw, after an outbreak of bubonic has zapped Khovd province in Mongolia, Jack Guy and Mary Ilyushina reported for CNN on July 8, 2020.

Two cases were confirmed, according to the Russian state media agency TASS on Tuesday late on Tuesday, CNN also reported. Marmots are large ground squirrels, a type of rodent, that have historically been linked to plague outbreaks in the region. Bubonic plague cases range from 1,000 to 2,000 annually in Mongolia and China but health authorities said many cases have not been reported.

Officials from the Republican Ministry of Agriculture and Food told citizens in the border area not to hunt marmots or eat marmot meat, and take preventive measures against insect bites. Rodents are the main vector of plague transmission from animals to humans, but the disease can also be passed on through flea bites.

The case was first discovered in the city of Bayannur, located northwest of Beijing, according to state-run Xinhua news agency, Jessie Yeung of CNN reported.  A hospital alerted municipal authorities of the suspected case on Saturday. By Sunday, local authorities had issued a citywide Level 3 warning for plague prevention, the second lowest in a four-level system. The warning will stay in place until the end of the year, according to Xinhua.