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Published On: Mon, Nov 19th, 2012

Plague outbreak kills six in Madagascar

An outbreak of the dangerous bacterial disease on the Big Island marks the beginning of plague season on the island nation in the Indian Ocean.

Madagascar map Image/Addicted04 via Wikimedia commons

The epidemiology and surveillance section of the Madagascar Ministry of Health reports 43 cases of pneumonic plague in the past month , which includes 6 fatalities in the Bongolava region alone.

While the vast majority of the cases where seen in Bongolava, other cases were reported in Mandoto and Ambalavao districts where at least one fatality was recorded.

“The plague victims sometimes live in remote areas and they self-medicate before going to a health center when the disease worsens. However, all health centers are equipped with rapid diagnostic test and medications to treat this disease immediately,” said Alain Marcel Rahetilahy, head of epidemic and neglected diseases within the Ministry of Health, reports L’Express de Madagascar.

Health authorities say the people must remain vigilant as the heat, rain and brush fires have forced rats to flee to the villages.

Madagascar sees up to 500 suspected plague cases annually.

Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is found in animals throughout the world, most commonly rats but other rodents like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, rabbits and voles. Fleas typically serve as the vector of plague.

People can also get infected through direct contact with an infected animal, through inhalation and in the case of pneumonic plague, person to person.

Pneumonic plague is probably the most serious form of plague, here the bacteria infect the lungs and cause pneumonia. It is contracted when the bacteria is inhaled (primary) or develops when bubonic or septicemic plague spreads to the lungs.

Pneumonic plague is contagious and can be transmitted person to person. It is highly communicable under appropriate climate conditions, overcrowding and cool temperatures. Untreated pneumonic plague is frequently fatal.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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