Pneumonic, bubonic and septicemic plague hit Madagascar

Henrietta Brewer
October 7, 2017

Five people succumbed to the plague in Antananarivo, including a Seychelles basketball coach visiting the country who died from the disease last Wednesday.

While plague is a recurring problem in Madagascar, this particular outbreak has triggered a nationwide panic because it has moved from remote rural areas into the cities, including the capital, Antananarivo. Officials have been left to track those people that may have come into contact with the ill, to give them antibiotics as precautionary measures.

It described plague as a "disease of poverty" that can kill quickly if untreated but can be cured if antibiotics are administered early.

The incident brings the total number of dead to 21 since the outbreak was identified in late August while at least 114 others have been infected.

In Madagascar, cases of bubonic plague- spread between animals to humans through flea bites- occur almost every year. Thus far, World Health Organization has released $300,000 in emergency funds and critical supplies to help, but they have also asked the United States for an additional $1.5 million to help drive response.

Plague is endemic to Madagascar, where around 400 cases of - mostly bubonic - plague are reported annually.

To contain the spread, the International Red Cross Federation is releasing emergency funds to support the Malagasy Red Cross, which is mobilizing more than 700 community volunteers in response to the outbreak. "The faster we move, the more lives we save", said Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO Representative in Madagascar.

For the six years from January 1, 2010 to December 31 2015, 3248 cases of plague in humans were reported, resulting in 584 deaths.

There are now three people on active observation in Seychelles and receiving treatment after showing some of the symptoms associated with the plague.

In the fight against the spread of plague, the universities of Toamasina and Antananarivo will be closed for sanitation.

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