While the Ebola epidemic is still out of control in West Africa, Madagascar is currently facing an outbreak of plague. 40 people have already died after having caught the pathogen. The World Health Organisation (WHO) found that around 80 individuals are now infected.
The first case of plague has been traced to the end of August. WHO had cautioned the authorities that the disease might possibly propagate to the capital, Antananarivo.
In a statement made previously, the health organisation affirmed:
“There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system”.
From rodents to fleas to humans
Plague is spread by infected fleas which are carried by rodents. Humans bitten by these fleas develop the bubonic version of plague. Getting rid of the fleas themselves has proved to be challenging: the insects have grown extremely resistant to insecticides.
Illustration of a flea
If the disease is detected at an early stage, antibiotics are effective at curing the infected person. This is the case for bubonic plague. But, unfortunately, 2% of the cases involve pneumonic plague which is even more dangerous. The latter form of the disease constitutes an exceedingly contagious version, where infection can happen from one person to another via coughing.
Management of the disease
The local authorities are working in cooperation with WHO and the Red Cross to keep the epidemic in check. A budget of $ 200 000 has been allocated to achieve the aim.
Hope lies in the use of antibiotics.