Bubonic Plague and Eating Rodents | Tomorrow's World

Bubonic Plague and Eating Rodents

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Every year, dozens of people still die from the bubonic plague, the “black death” that killed tens of millions in Eurasia in the 1300s. This bacterial plague is associated with unsanitary conditions and is transmitted by rodents and their fleas. Recently, a native couple from Mongolia “died of the bubonic plague after eating raw marmot kidney, triggering a quarantine that left tourists stranded in a remote region for days” (The Guardian, May 6, 2019). “Authorities have warned people against eating raw marmot meat because it can carry Yersinia pestis, the plague germ. Some people ignore the warnings as they believe that consuming the innards of the large rodent is good for their health.”

In our modern world where most people eat whatever they want, tragic deaths like these should not be a surprise. Yet, these deaths are avoidable and preventable because the knowledge of how to avoid this disease has existed for thousands of years. The Bible contains a list of animals that are labeled “unclean”—not to be eaten by human beings—and that list includes rodents (see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14). Although the Bible does not give the biological basis for these dietary restrictions, the modern science of disease transmission helps us understand why these life-saving prohibitions are recorded in the Scriptures. For more information about the biblical dietary laws, be sure to read “Bible Principles of Health”—and look for our article “Do You Really Want to Eat That?” in next month’s issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine. Subscribe here.