According to health authorities in Madagascar, at least 25 suspected cases of plague have been reported since August throughout the country as of early October. At least six of the cases were laboratory confirmed. At least five deaths have been confirmed, including three associated with pneumonic plague and at least one associated with bubonic plague. According to local sources, the most affected areas include Ambalavao, Ankazobe, Miarinarivo, Arivonimamo, Antsirabe, Antananarivo, and Fandriana. Additional cases are likely to be reported in the coming weeks and months.
Between August and November 2017, at least 202 fatalities linked to a total of 2417 confirmed cases of pneumonic and bubonic plague were reported during a nationwide outbreak.
Plague is a bacterial infection that typically affects rodents and is most often transmitted from rodents to other animals and humans via flea bites. Bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease, characterized by swollen lymph nodes; it is fatal in 30 to 60 percent of cases. Pneumonic plague occurs when the bacteria infects the lungs; symptoms include fever, headache, weakness, pneumonia, chest pain, shortness of breath, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous. It is the most virulent form of the disease and can be spread from person to person. Without prompt and effective treatment, pneumonic plague is always fatal. Plague can be treated with antibiotics.
Individuals in Madagascar should take measures to protect themselves from insect bites (use insect repellents, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, etc.), maintain strict standards of sanitation (cleanliness to discourage presence of rodents, elimination of rodent habitats outdoors - e.g. brush, rock piles, pet food, etc.), use flea control products on all pets, and avoid contact with potentially infected persons. Anyone presenting with the above symptoms is advised to seek immediate medical attention.
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