In Madagascar, plague outbreak now threatens largest cities

Monday, October 16, 2017
By Paul Martin

By EDWARD CARVER, ASSOCIATED PRESS
ABCNews.com
Oct 16, 2017

As plague cases rose last week in Madagascar’s capital, many city dwellers panicked. They waited in long lines for antibiotics at pharmacies and reached through bus windows to buy masks from street vendors. Schools have been canceled, and public gatherings are banned.

The plague outbreak has killed 63 people in the Indian Ocean island nation, Madagascar’s government says. For the first time, the disease long seen in the country’s remote areas is largely concentrated in its two largest cities, Antananarivo and Toamasina.

Global health officials have responded quickly. The World Health Organization, criticized for its slow response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, has released $1.5 million and sent plague specialists and epidemiologists. The Red Cross is sending its first-ever plague treatment center to Madagascar.

On Wednesday, Madagascar’s minister of public health rallied doctors and paramedics in a packed auditorium at the country’s main hospital, saying they’re not allowed to go on vacation.

“Let’s be strong, because it’s only us. We’re at the front, like the military,” Mamy Lalatiana Andriamanarivo said. The outbreak could continue until the end of infection season in April, experts warn.

Madagascar has about 400 plague cases per year, or more than half of the world’s total, according to a 2016 World Health Organization report. Usually, they are cases of bubonic plague in the rural highlands. Bubonic plague is carried by rats and spread to humans through flea bites. It is fatal about the half the time, if untreated.

Most of the cases in the current outbreak are pneumonic plague, a more virulent form that spreads through coughing, sneezing or spitting and is almost always fatal if untreated. In some cases, it can kill within 24 hours. Like the bubonic form, it can be treated with common antibiotics if caught in time.

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One Response to “In Madagascar, plague outbreak now threatens largest cities”

  1. Doug

    The only way I can process the deluge of world wide events at this point is to lean on prohphesy and the remarkable comparison to what’s occurring. Somewhat encouraging and terrifying.

    #3418806

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