By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials from the Mongolian National Center for Zoonotic Diseases are reporting (computer translated) three additional  suspected cases of the bubonic plague in Uvurkhangai province.

Image/National Center for Zoonotic Diseases Facebook page

Three members of a family are affected–mother and her two children–after eating marmot meat recently.

Officials say the patients are currently hospitalized.

Year to date in Mongolia, 16 suspected plague cases have been reported, of which, four are laboratory confirmed.

Related: Congo, Madagascar top countries reporting most plague 2000-2009, US reports 57 cases

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is found in animals throughout the world, most commonly rats but other rodents like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, rabbits and marmots in China. Fleas typically serve as the vector for plague.

People can also get infected through direct contact with an infected animal, through inhalation and in the case of pneumonic plague, person to person.

Yersinia pestis is treatable with antibiotics if started early enough.

There are three forms of human plague; bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.