Plague spreads to dozens of health workers amid fears Madagascar CAN’T contain black death

Thursday, November 16, 2017
By Paul Martin

THE plague outbreak in Madagascar has spread to health workers, with dozens struck down by the black death.

Thu, Nov 16, 2017

A staggering 82 health workers have been struck down by the disease – about around four per cent of the total number of cases – according to latest figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The news has added to fears Madagascar’s health system will be left unable to cope as the outbreak continues to claim more victims.

There are also fears the disease could develop a resistance to the antibiotics being used to treat victims, which would likely see the number of cases surge.

According to the latest update from WHO, 346 healthcare providers “have been trained on infection prevention and control measures at various health facilities”.

Professor John Joe McFadden from the University of Surrey said: “Fortunately in plague, it has not developed much antibiotic resistance.

“If that kicks in, the plague will be far, far scarier.

“If you throw more and more antibiotics at patients, antibiotic resistance is more or less inevitable.”

Madagascar generally sees around 400 cases of bubonic plague every year, but two-thirds of this year’s outbreak are classified as pneumonic, a type of plague which spreads more easily.

At least 2,119 cases of the plague have been reported and the death toll is continuing to rise with the disease having now claimed 171 lives, according to latest WHO figures.

Health officials have warned more cases are expected to be recorded.

The WHO website states: “Based on available information and response measures implemented to date, WHO estimates the risk of potential further spread of the plague outbreak at national level remains high.”

Meanwhile, neighbouring islands in the Indian Ocean, which include holiday hotspots like Mauritius and the Seychelles, remain on alert and are prepared for any outbreaks.

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