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Couple Dies of Plague, Sparks Outbreak Fears After Eating Raw Marmot

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Couple Dies Plague Eating Marmot
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A Mongolian couple ate the raw, uncooked internal organs of a marmot—a large, squirrel-like rodent—in the belief that its kidney, stomach, and gall bladder would bring them good health.

However, according to health officials, the two died on May 1 when it turned out the marmot wasn’t so healthy.

Their deaths sparked fears of a local outbreak of the bubonic plague, leading to a six-day quarantine of 118 people, including locals and foreign tourists.

The town of Tsagaannuur, which lies near the border separating Mongolia from Russia and has a population of roughly 1,400, was sealed off from the outside world after the ethnic Kazakh couple contracted the old-fashioned bubonic plague from the infected marmot, according to Ariuntuya Ochirpurev, an official with the World Health Organization in the country’s capital Ulaanbaatar.

Sebastian Pique, a volunteer with the American Peace Corps, told Agence France-Presse:

“After the quarantine [was announced] not many people, even locals, were in the streets for fear of catching the disease.”

As of Tuesday, however, the quarantine was officially lifted, allowing scores of tourists to finally leave the area.

Luckily, no other cases of the bubonic plague have been reported since then, according to local governor Aipiin Gilimkhaan.

In Mongolia, about one person per year dies of the plague, usually through similar incidents of locals eating raw meat containing the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis, according to the National Center for Zoonotic Disease.

History is filled with cases of plague epidemics responsible for killing millions, including the Black Death in the Middle Ages that killed an estimated 50 million people.

Modern antibiotics have made such diseases manageable, however.

The bubonic plague is one of the most common forms of plague and is transmitted through infected fleas and animals, including rodents such as rats and squirrels, rabbits, and prairie dogs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC notes that human infections occur in parts of Africa, Asia and even in western regions of the United States.

Ken Gage of the CDC told NPR:

“What we see in the West is the fleas will crawl up to the entrance of the burrow and wait for a host to come by … If they get on another rodent that they can live on, then they’ve been successful. But they can also jump on humans or on dogs or coyotes or cats.”

In the late 1800s, millions of people died in China and Hong Kong before the connection was made with rodents, whose elimination drastically lowered the incidence of plague in the East Asian country.

The main symptom of bubonic plague is swollen, painful lymph nodes, usually in the armpit, neck, and groin areas, the CDC notes. This is often accompanied by fever, headache, chills, extreme fatigue, bleeding, and open sores. Death can arrive within a few short days.

An even more virulent type of plague is the pneumonic plague, which is transmitted between humans through coughing.

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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