South African tourists warned about Plague in Madagascar

Kristen Gonzales
October 27, 2017

While there are no travel restrictions to Madagascar, a multi-sectoral national response coordination committee has been established, the department said.

The other eight countries are the Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, France's La RĂ©union, the Seychelles and Tanzania.

Since the outbreak, the World Health Organization has indicated that nine countries namely, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles and La Reunion are at high risk of plague importation, on account of trade and travel between Madagascar and these countries.

The plague is a lethal disease with a 30 to 100 percent chance of death within 72 hours, if left untreated depending on the type of it.

Yes. All forms of the plague are treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough. "Risk to the region is moderate because of frequent air and sea travel, but the global risk is perceived to be low".

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Historically, plague was responsible for widespread pandemics with high mortality rates. It was known as the "Black Death" during the fourteenth century, causing more than 50 million deaths in Europe.

Madagascar was reportedly hit with the black death in September, and health authorities are concerned because it has affected urban areas, increasing the risk of transmission and spread, according to the WHO.

South Africa has put several measures in place including alerting all airline companies to remain vigilant for suspected ill passengers; port health officials have enhanced their screening measures to detect ill passengers arriving.

"If they develop fever, chills, head and body aches, painful and inflamed lymph nodes, or shortness of breath with coughing and/or blood-tainted sputum".

In bubonic infections, plague-causing bacteria can be transmitted between animals and fleas, with infected fleas then passing the disease on to people through bites. Where plague is endemic, it is usually found in rodents and is spread by fleas from rodent to rodent, or to other mammals. The UN affiliated health agency says 584 deaths have resulted from plagues in 3,248 cases reported worldwide between 2010 to 2015. MSF water and sanitation specialists, alongside local teams, are also involved in hygiene and disinfection protocols in the hospital and the community to mitigate the risk of the plague spreading further.

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