The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday, October 11, that one case of the pneumonic plague has been confirmed in the Seychelles. According to the ministry’s statement, a 34-year-old man returning from Madagascar fell ill on October 6 and was subsequently diagnosed with the disease. The man is currently being treated in isolation at the Seychelles Hospital, and 15 people believed to have been in contact with the individual are under surveillance and being treated as a precaution. A further 42 people who recently arrived back from Madagascar are being monitored. The risk of infection in the Seychelles remains very low.
Despite disinfection campaigns and other efforts to stop the spread of the disease, Madagascar is currently struggling to deal with an ongoing plague outbreak that has killed some 50 people so far. On October 6, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 2 alert; while the risk to travelers remains "very low," the center advises “enhanced precautions” for those traveling to Madagascar.
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 the Seychelles are advised to monitor the situation and take measures to protect themselves from flea bites (use insect repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, etc.), maintain strict hygienic standards (cleanliness to discourage presence of rodents, elimination of possible rodent habitats outdoors - e.g. brush, rock piles, pet food, etc.), and use flea control products on all pets. Anyone presenting with the above symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
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