Published On: Thu, Oct 10th, 2013

Madagascar prison and ICRC work to battle plague by eliminating rats

Of all the countries on the planet, only the Congo recorded more cases of human plague than Madagascar during the last decade.

Capturing rats Image/Video Screen Shot

Capturing rats
Image/Video Screen Shot

The decade before, the island country was the plague capital of the world.

Just last year, Madagascar became the most severely affected country in the world, with 256 cases and 60 deaths according to data from the World Health Organization.

In an effort to get the plague situation under control, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Malagasy prison authorities launched a campaign against rodents in Antanimora Prison in Antananarivo, where 3,000 inmates are held, according to a ICRC press release today.

“The chronic overcrowding and the unhygienic conditions in prisons can bring on new cases of the disease,” said Christoph Vogt, head of the ICRC delegation in Madagascar. “That’s dangerous not only for the inmates but also for the population in general.”

“Rat control is essential for preventing the plague, because rodents spread the bacillus to fleas that can then infect humans,” said Mr Vogt. “So the relatives of a detainee can pick up the disease on a visit to the prison. And a released detainee returning to his community without having been treated can also spread the disease.”

With the technical support of the ICRC and the Pasteur Institute of Madagascar, detainees and prison staff are involved in the disinfection work and insecticide spraying that the ICRC carries out in the cells as needed. The ICRC also distributes hygiene products and rodent traps.

According to the CDC, Plague is an infectious disease that affects rodents, certain other animals and humans. It is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. These bacteria are found in many areas of the world, including the United States.

People most commonly acquire plague when they are bitten by a flea that is infected with the plague bacteria. People can also become infected from direct contact with infected tissues or fluids while handling an animal that is sick with or that has died from plague. Finally, people can become infected from inhaling respiratory droplets after close contact with cats and humans with pneumonic plague.

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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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