Eating marmot is thought to be good for health

Monday, November 18th, 2019

China has been hit with the plague:

On Tuesday, Beijing authorities announced a municipal hospital had taken in a married couple from Inner Mongolia, a sparsely populated autonomous region in northwest China, seeking treatment for pneumonic plague. One patient is stable while the other is in critical condition but not deteriorating, according to Beijing’s health commission.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public on Weibo, a Chinese social media site that is the equivalent of Twitter, that chances of a plague outbreak are “extremely low.” The city’s health commission has quarantined the infected patients, provided preventative care for those exposed to the couple and sterilized the relevant medical facilities, the center said.

Police are also guarding the quarantined emergency room of Chaoyang hospital, where the infected patients were first received and diagnosed, according to Caixin, an independent Chinese news outlet.


China has a checkered record in managing public health crises. In 2002, the central government initially refused to acknowledge a nationwide outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, an illness with flu- and pneumonia-like symptoms.


Mongolia, which borders the autonomous region where the infected Chinese couple lives, reported two fatal cases of bubonic plague just this year, after the patients ate raw marmot, a species of wild rodent that often carry the offending bacterium. In Mongolia, eating marmot is thought to be good for health.

At least it’s not African rabies.


  1. Graham says:

    I am prepared to be culturally sympathetic- rodents are often a protein source, and many cultures eat raw meat, though I am grossed out by both notions. I doubt I could combine the two regardless of how much alcohol was involved.

    I gather there are also still plague reservoirs in northern Indian and the SW United States. In the latter, also some sort of rodent.

    IIRC we can now kill plague relatively easily with antibiotics, at least at the earlier bubonic stage. Here’s hoping there aren’t multiply resistant strains coming soon of the Black Death.

  2. Adar says:

    This particular plague is the worst possible sort so as reported. The pneumonic sort that can be spread by coughing.

  3. Graham says:

    I had long been of the impression that plague left untreated in any particular patient, if it didn’t kill him faster, would get into the lungs and so become the pneumonic form. Is it a different strain?

  4. Graham says:

    Way back in university I read Plagues and Peoples by William (?) O’Neill. Great book, one of the earliest to take that big picture thematic approach to a historical issue, definitely one of the first on diseases as a driver of history.

    Worth reading even now, though there have probably been updated developments.

    He might have been the one to introduce me to the idea of wondering what exactly caused the great disease epidemics, that is to say which diseases. I still check in from time to time on what is being said.

    We seem to be well satisfied that both the Plague of Justinian and its various successor outbreaks, and the Black Death with its follow-on episodes through the 19c, were in fact Plague. The Antonine plague I don’t know. The Plague of Athens during the Pelopponesian (?) War seems to still be up for grabs. I once saw a lot of claims for anthrax, wikipedia seems to currently report mainly claims for typhus, typhoid, or some predecessor of ebola.

  5. Graham says:

    OT but it looks like progressive education has finally reached its final stages:

    Padded seclusion rooms.

    Tell me again how a slap on the hand was worse?

  6. Sam J. says:

    Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill. Great book

    I agree 100% this is a foundation book in understanding history and the world as it is. I can not say enough about how enlightening this book us. Must read. His book on technology and warfare is EXTREMELY GOOD too. Even though it’s about ancient stuff, mostly, it’s just as relevant today as any other time. Maybe even more so as tech changes so fast now.

    The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000 by William H. McNeill

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