Russia said on Monday it had stepped up patrols to stop people hunting marmots near its border China and Mongolia after the countries reported possible cases of bubonic plague, which can be carried by the animals. Authorities in Bayan Nur, a city in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, issued a warning on Sunday after a hospital reported a suspected case of the deadly disease. The Chinese region forbade the hunting and eating of the large rodents and asked the public to report any suspected cases, as well as any sick or dead marmots. Neighbouring Mongolia also reported two cases of bubonic plague linked to people eating marmot meat in its western Khovd province last week. Authorities in Russia’s Altai region, which borders Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, said officials were patrolling the area to enforce a ban on hunting marmots and to warn people about the dangers, TASS news agency reported.