A disturbing plague outbreak is devastating Madagascar

Business Insider | 10/10/2017 | Kevin Loria
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A plague outbreak has infected hundreds of people in Madagascar and could spread further.

The form of the disease that's spreading, pneumonic plague, is the deadliest.

Outbreak - Scale - Plague

This outbreak is on a larger scale and is spreading far more rapidly than plague normally does.

The man who came down with first known case died on August 27.

Days - Malaria - World - Health - Organization

He'd been ill for a few days with what was thought to be malaria, according to the World Health Organization. It turned out to be pneumonic plague, which is the most contagious and deadliest form of the disease, since it can spread through the air when people cough.

The man, who is unnamed in WHO documents but described as 31 years old, died while traveling by bush taxi, a form of public transport in Madagascar. He was en route to the coastal city of Tamatave from the Ankazobe District in the central highlands, and had passed through the capital city of Antananarivo.

Plague - Cases - Madagascar - Number - People

Plague cases started to appear throughout Madagascar shortly after that, with a number traced to people that man came into contact with, and then to people those individuals encountered.

As of October 7, at least 343 cases and 42 deaths from the outbreak had been confirmed, with numbers expected to continue rising.

Plague - Antibiotics - October - WHO - Doses

Plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics if it's caught early enough. On October 6, the WHO announced that they'd delivered 1.2 million doses of antibiotics to the island nation and authorized $1.5 million in funding to help fight the disease. But the rapid spread of this outbreak is causing international alarm.

In Madagascar, Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the three forms of the plague, is endemic in certain locations — as it is in other parts of the world, like the US Southwest. The presence of Y. pestis results in regular outbreaks. The US sees a...
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