Bubonic plague outbreak kills 21 in Madagascar

Dec 11, 2013 12:00 AM

At least 21 people have died this week in northern Madagascar after contracting pneumonic plague, the Health Ministry says.

A village near the northwestern town of Mandritsara on the island of Madagascar is where at least 21 people perished following a deadly outbreak of the plague, the ministry said on Wednesday.

Medical experts from the Pasteur Institute in Madagascar confirmed tests had identified their cause of death as the bubonic plague, a disease that claimed 25 million lives in the Middle Ages.

The African island's dirty, overcrowded prisons could be an ideal breeding zone for the disease, experts said.

The bubonic plague is mostly transmitted to humans by rats and fleas.

“Rat control is essential for preventing the plague because rodents spread the bacillus to fleas that can then infect humans. So the relatives of a detainee can pick up the disease on a visit to the prison. And a released detainee returning to his community without having been treated can also spread the disease,” head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Madagascar, Christoph Vogt, said in October.

This is while public officials had warned of the risk of an outbreak in October.
Since September, 36 people on the island have died due to the infectious disease, also known as Black Death.

According to the ICRC, about 500 cases have been recorded on the island every year since 2009, making Madagascar the most dangerous country in the world with the disease.

Africa is now believed to have more than nine out of ten bubonic plague cases worldwide.


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