Madagascar Plague Outbreak Worst in 50 Years
Kevin Felts 11.02.17
An outbreak of pneumonic plague in Madagascar is being called the worst in 50 years, and is expected to get worse.
Nine nations bordering Madagascar are at a heightened level of disease surveillance.
Rituals on All Saints Day have officials concerned. One such ritual involves digging up bodies of dead family members, dancing with the body, re-wrapping the body, and reburying it. During this event, people are packed tightly together.
This year’s outbreak of the plague is being called “odd” because it started so early in the season.
Unlike bubonic plague which needs a vector such as a flea bite to transmit the disease, pneumonic plague is spread through cough droplets and sneezing.
This year’s deadly airborne plague outbreak in Madagascar is the ‘worst to strike the country in 50 years’, experts have today revealed.
Aid workers have also warned annual celebrations to honour the dead earlier this week will trigger a spike in cases in the coming days as people will have came into close contact with each other.
Plague season hits Madagascar each year and still has six months to run, however at least 1,800 people have been infected so far – three times the expected amount.
Reports state 127 deaths have been recorded, with most caused by the airborne pneumonic plague, which is spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting and can kill within 24 hours if untreated.
20,000 cloth masks have been donated by various international agencies.
Early in October, the World Health Organization (WHO) released more than one million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar.
Plague is a bacterial infection which is treatable with antibiotics–if caught early. Up until the development of antibiotics, bubonic and pneumonic plague killed millions of people. One such outbreak between 1348-1350 killed an estimated 1/3 of Europe.