Plague kills 124 in Madagascar, cities most affected

The southeast African island of Madagascar is scrambling to contain an outbreak of pneumonic plague

    Plague kills 124 in Madagascar, cities most affected
    Rubbish at the market of Anosibe, Madagascar [Rijasolo/AFP/Getty Images]

    A plague epidemic in Madagascar has killed 124 people since August in an outbreak that has hit the island's two main cities the hardest, the authorities said.

    Plague is endemic in Madagascar, but the outbreak that has caused 1,192 suspected cases since August is especially worrying because it started earlier in the season than usual and has hit urban, rather than rural areas.

    Its symptoms are flu-like - fever, chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, neck or armpits.

    There are three major types of plague: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. Two-thirds of the cases are of the pneumonic plague.

    Pneumonic, the most lethal form has broken out in Madagascar. Highly contagious, it is transmitted from person to person often by coughing. If untreated, it has a fatality rate close to 100 percent and can be fatal within 24 hours of being contracted.

    Bubonic plague is spread by fleas or rodents to humans and can spread to a person's lungs. About 10 percent of bubonic plague cases develop to become pneumonic.

    The third strain septicemic, when the infection spreads through the bloodstream. This could happen from flea bites or if the bacteria enters through a cut on a person's skin.

    "The total number of cases (1,192) is already three times higher than the average annual total," the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management said in a report on Wednesday.

    Last week, a World Health Organization report said the death toll stood at 94.

    The capital Antananarivo and Toamasina, the two largest cities in Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean, were the most affected, with 55 percent of cases recorded there.

    To date 54 medical staff have been infected, it said.

    The report said that of an estimated $9.5m in aid needed to counter the epidemic, only $3m has been raised.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.