Plague Patients Escaping Hospital, Refusing Treatment

Madagascar plague outbreak

According to an official at a plague hospital in Madagascar, there are fears that “black death” may spread due to infected fugitives, i.e. patients with plague escaping hospital and refusing medical assistance. Even if it may sound funny, it appears like patients are terrified of needles and they’re not used to hospital treatment, hence they’re running away.

The chief of medicine at at the Central Anti-Plague Hospital in Ambohimindra, Madagascar, described how security guards are now tasked with keeping plague patients in and making sure the newly arrived are following safety procedures, besides their regular job. The deputy representative of UNICEF, Jean Benoit Manhes respectively, was quoted as saying for the Irish Times:

“Some escaped because they’re afraid of needles. People here are not used to the hospital.The problem of plague is not just a medical response. You can have hospitals but if people don’t come it isn’t enough.”

These types of incidents further fuel health officials’ fears that the “black death” may spread even further than previously expected. The Malagasy people traditional burial tradition of digging up their dead relatives every 7 years or so also doesn’t help much with keeping the plague epidemic under control. Another thing that comes into play is that plague victims who got well after receiving medical treatment face stigma as they return  to their communities. The Central Anti-Plague Hospital in Ambohimindra chief od medicine Dr Marielle Zaramisy has said:

Some people are ashamed once they get out of here.They don’t know can they go out at night, they don’t want to tell their boss because he won’t hug them anymore.”

The Madagascar officials already told people to stop carrying out their burial tradition, which consists of digging up dead relatives, turning the bones with families “cleaning” the remains, then re-wrapping/reburying  them while other members of the family perform a ritual dance. The risk is that plague bacteria may still be alive in those corpses and can infect the living.