Plague AIRLINE WARNING: Fears Black Death could SPREAD on flights from Madagascar

Friday, October 27, 2017
By Paul Martin

FEARS have been raised that the deadly plague spreading across Madagascar could spread to other countries via sea and air.

Fri, Oct 27, 2017

The huge island nation off the coast of south east Africa has been hit with a fatal outbreak of the disease, which has so far claimed at least 124 lives and infected 1,333 people.

The plague has already spread from the Ankazobe District, where the outbreak originated, into the capital of Antananarivo and the port city of Toamasina.

In the the majority of recorded cases, the victim has been infected with pneumonic plague, the deadliest strain of the disease which has a 100 per cent fatality rate if not treated.

It is the same form of plague that killed an estimated 200 million people across Europe and Eurasia in the 14th century, in one of the deadliest pandemics in human history that became known as the Black Death.

Unlike the more common bubonic plague, which is usually contracted via flea bites, the pnuemonic plague is airborne and can be transferred via coughing and sneezing.

Initially, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said their was a relatively low risk of the outbreak spreading beyond Madagascar, as the incubation period for pneumonic plague is incredibly short and most people infected with it would be too ill to travel.

But as the outbreak continues to spread, health officials are worried the plague could reach overseas as infected travellers pass the bacteria on during plane or boat trips.

Nine nearby countries – South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, La RĂ©union, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Comoros – have all been put on notice and launched emergency plans in case of spread.

Unicef, the Red Cross, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have all mobilised teams to prepare for such a scenario.

They aim to increase public awareness to increase surveillance, particularly at borders, draw up contingency plans and sourcing medication.

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