Pneumonic Plague Hits Madagascar
A plague outbreak in Madagascar has killed 124 people, garnering national and international concern.
Since the outbreak started in August, the plague has infected 1,192 people in at least 10 cities, including the larger, more populated, cities of Antananarivo and Toamasina.
The plague spread like wildfire because of its pneumonic form of the disease, which can spread from person to person. In fact, Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster reported a majority of cases, around 67%, were the pneumonic form. The severity of its deadly nature can kill a person in less than 24 hours, with shorter incubation.
The plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly. Sometimes referred to as the “black plague,” the disease is caused by a bacterial strain called Yersinia pestis. This bacteria is found on animals throughout the world and is usually transmitted to humans through fleas
Plague in Madagascar
Plague is not new in the African country. In fact, plague is endemic in Madagascar, affecting 400 people annually. However, the recent plague has spread in different areas, and faster than expected.
Though the plague has caught the attention of the international community for fear of spread of infection, the World Health Organization assured the public that the trend has been relatively stable amid the rising number of cases.
Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO representative in Madagascar, told CNN, “The risk of international spread is low, because generally, people with plague are too sick to travel.”
WHO, Madagascar Collaborate to Stem Spread of Infection
WHO and the Madagascar Health Ministry are racing against time to stop the spread of this disease. WHO designated eight health centers to manage plague cases and ease the burden on hospitals and health clinics. The International Federation of Red Cross also set up treatment centers in the country to response to the health crisis.
WHO provided treatment and medications to treat to 5,000 people and protect 100,000 who may have been in contact with infected individuals.