Madagascar Plague Outbreak Escalates: 57 Dead, Almost 700 Infected

madagascar plague epidemic

Our ancestors were so terrified by the plague, that it influenced medieval culture, including art and literature: music, stage works, poetry, prose, you name it. Nicknamed “the black death”, plague almost obliterated Europe in the 14th century, killing one in three people and reaching a peak between 1346–1353:

Father abandoned child, wife husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through the breath and sight. And so they died. And none could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could, without priest, without divine offices … great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude of dead. And they died by the hundreds both day and night … And as soon as those ditches were filled more were dug …

And now, plague is back in Madagascar with a vengeance I might add, and it’s spreading at an incredible/unprecedented rate. Now, if you think Madagascar is in another universe, you may be right. But the thing is, the world is much smaller than it used to be 500 years ago, as  technology shrunk both time and distances(think along the lines of airplanes and stuff like that). The point is, epidemics are way more dangerous nowadays, when you can get anywhere in the world in a matter of hours, not to mention what would happen with a city like Tokyo, Los Angeles or Beijing if confronted with a plague epidemic.

The problem with plague is that it spreads incredibly easy and fast and it is only a matter of time until the Madagascar outbreak will move to more densely populated areas of the planet. So far, the plague epidemic in Madagascar killed at least 57 locals and more than 680 (and counting) are infected.

And keep in mind these are October 12th figures. 

Many of the deaths/infections (25/329 respectively) occurred in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo. Out of the 684 reported infections as per October 12th figures, 156 were the bubonic plague, 474 were pneumonic plague and 1 septicemic plague. According to the World Health Organization, an additional 54 plague cases were unspecified. 35 out of Madagascar’s 114 districts reported plague infections, including (at least) ten cities.

Even if plague is a relatively common occurrence in Madagascar, experts warn this year is very different, as the plague infections/deaths started way earlier than usual, not to mention the disease was sprawling in new areas, including cities, which is unusual. There’s also a very significant number of people infected with pneumonic plague, which is highly contagious, virulent and damaging, as it transmits easily from person to person by coughing/sneezing via airborne droplets. Plague is typically spread via flea-bites (carried by rats).

The government of Madagascar is currently implementing proactive measures to mitigate the outbreak, while the WHO takes the plague outbreak seriously, mobilizing volunteers and releasing millions of dollars in emergency funds and 1.2 million doses of antibiotic to Madagascar’s treatment centers.

It is essential for plague victims to be diagnosed early, as the disease can be cured with antibiotics in its early stages, regardless of the variety of plague.

And now, the Madagascar plague appears to have spread to Seychelles, according to WHO on  10/16/17

“Seychelles health authorities reported a probable case of pneumonic plague on Oct 10 in a 34-year-old man returning from a visit to Madagascar…”

“An initial diagnostic test on the Seychelles man had been “weakly positive” for pneumonic plague, but definitive laboratory results are expected from the Institute Pasteur in Paris”

“Nearly 1,000 people who were exposed to the man or his close circle were given a prophylactic course of antibiotics to prevent infection and spread, it said. They included children, teachers, passengers, flight crew and health workers.

Seychelles, which has 93,000 people, largely depends on tourism for government revenues.”