Madagascar Struggles to Contain ‘Black Death’ Plague


Madagascar said Monday it was trying to contain an outbreak of plague — similar to the Black Death that swept medieval Europe — that has killed 47 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo.

“The plague” has been taking lives in the most gruesome of ways for thousands of years. And guess what: It’s still here.

The health ministry said there had been 138 suspected cases since the beginning of the year and warned that the death toll was likely to rise in coming months.

Two people have been infected in Antananarivo, one of them dying, and health workers have mounted a pest control campaign through slum areas around the city, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The health ministry’s secretary general, Philemon Tafangy, said “two hundred households have been disinfected” this month.

He said those who had contact with the infected had been given antibiotics in a bid to arrest the spread the disease.

The WHO last week said 40 people had died as a result of plague, which was first identified in August.

Plague is spread by fleas and mostly affects rats, but humans can also contract the disease if they are bitten by a disease-carrying flea.

The bubonic form prompts swelling of the lymph node, but can be treated with antibiotics. The pneumonic version, affecting the lungs, can be spread from person to person through coughing and can kill within 24 hours.

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SOURCE: Discovery / AFP

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