An outbreak of the plague has killed 40 people in Madagascar since late August, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, warning that there is a risk of the disease spreading rapidly in the country’s capital, Antananarivo.
The first known victim, a man from Soamahatamana village in the district of Tsiroanomandidy, was identified on August 31. He later died on September 3, and authorities notified the WHO of the outbreak on November 4, the agency said.
There are now 119 confirmed cases of the plague in the country.
So far, there have been two cases and one death recorded in Antananarivo, but those figures could climb quickly due to “the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system”, the WHO warned.
“The situation is further complicated by the high level of resistance to deltamethrin (an insecticide used to control fleas) that has been observed in the country,” it added.
Plague, a bacterial disease, is mainly spread from one rodent to another by fleas. Humans bitten by an infected flea usually develop a bubonic form of plague, which swells the lymph nodes and can be treated with antibiotics, the WHO said.
If the bacteria reach the lungs, the patient develops pneumonia (pneumonic plague), which is transmissible from person to person through infected droplets spread by coughing. It is “one of the most deadly infectious diseases” and can kill people within 24 hours.
Two percent of the cases reported in Madagascar so far have been pneumonic, the organization added.
The WHO said it did not recommend any trade or travel restrictions based on the information available about the outbreak.
The last previously known outbreak of the plague was in Peru in August 2010, according to the WHO.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-11-22