Tajikistan authorities call on tourist companies to refrain from sending tourists to Sarytag area in Ayni district of the northern province of Sughd due to the risk of contracting the plague.  

A letter released by the Tourism Development Committee under the Government of Tajikistan on March 28 says there is risk of contracting a dangerous disease – the plague – Sarytag area, where 250 people died of the plague last century.  

The letter reviewed by Asia-Plus notes that due to possible climate changes there is a possibility of discovering new sources of infection.  

The document was reportedly prepared on the basis of recommendations of the Ministry of health and Social Protection of the Population (MoHSPP).   

Meanwhile, an official source at a MoHSPP says the last cases of the plague had bene registered in the country many decades ago and there is no cause for concern.  

The source emphasized that such warnings are for travel companies are a standard measure based on internal safety and prevention protocols.

“Due to climate change, especially rain and floods, the plague can manifest itself from hidden sources despite the fact that it has not been discovered for many years,” the source added.  

To clarify the situation, Asia-Plus spoke with several companies involved in domestic tourism.  Representatives of one of them said they have not yet received warnings about travels to Sarytag area and they don’t even have that kind of information.

Uzbekistan’s news agency Daryo reported in late August last year that Tajikistan is scheduled to receive support from the Russian federal service Rospotrebnadzor (the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare) in the fight against the plague. This was announced in a meeting of the Coordination Council attended by representatives of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the CIS Executive Committee, according to Daryo

During the meeting, Rospotrebnadzor reportedly informed the participants that in 2023, programs to assist CIS member states in ensuring epidemiological well-being for dangerous infectious diseases will continue with the support of the Russian government.

Specialists will be trained, joint exercises and expeditions will be conducted, and the material and technical base of specialized institutions of CIS member countries will be strengthened through these programs.

The bubonic plague reportedly last occurred in Tajikistan's Ayni district 120 years ago, resulting in around 200 fatalities, including medical personnel.

The disease is transmitted through flea and tick bites and is characterized by severe symptoms, including fever, skin lesions, lymph nodes, lungs, and septic conditions.