The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned natives, as well as travelers of a rapid spread of the bubonic plague in the capital of Madagascar, as 119 cases of the bacterial disease have been reported, including at least 40 deaths in the island nation.
According to the WHO the epidemic is spreading fast most recently hitting Antananarivo, the capital and largest city in Madagascar. In a press release WHO said the city has also been affected with 2 recorded cases of plague, including 1 death. “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”, WHO stated.
Plague is a bacterial disease caused by Yersinia pestis, which primarily affects wild rodents. It is carried and spread by fleas that live on the bodies of rats. Humans bitten by an infected flea usually develop a bubonic form of plague, which produces the characteristic plague bubo, or swelling of the lymph node. WHO said if diagnosed early, bubonic plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Controlling measures and prevention of plague are being thoroughly implemented in the affected districts. Personal protective equipment, insecticides, spray materials and antibiotics have been made available in those areas.
To support WHO a national task force is now being set up, to stop the plague outbreak which is expected to cost $200,000. That is a huge figure in a country where 75 percent of the population subsists below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.
Though in most of the rest of the world, plague has become extremely rare Madagascar has seen up to 600 cases reported each year. The most recent cases in the United States came in July, when four people were diagnosed with the disease after coming into contact with a flea-infested dog. Colorado’s prairie dog population has been found to carry the type of flea that can spread plague.