A DEADLY outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague, which has been attributed to the Black Death, has killed at least 33 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO, which has been working alongside Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, confirmed more than 231 people had been infected with the contagious plague and officials have warned the risk of the epidemic spreading is “high”.
More than 50 million people in Europe were killed by the Black Death in the 1300s, which many historians believe was caused by several killer diseases including the pneumonic plague.
Eastern and central Madagascar have been worst hit by the outbreak, sparking emergency funding from the WHO.
A WHO official said: “The risk of the disease spreading is high at national level… because it is present in several towns and this is just the start of the outbreak.”
The plague has fatality rates of 30 to 100 percent if untreated and the pneumonic strand is transmitted person to person by air, making it more difficult to control.
The WHO describes pneumonic plague as “the deadliest and most rapid form of plague”.
Nearly 1.2million doses of antibiotics and £11.4million ($15million) worth of emergency funding have been sent by WHO to fight the plague.
Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, a WHO Representative in Madagascar, said: “Plague is curable if detected in time.
“Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save.
The risk of the disease spreading is high at national level
A WHO official
“Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save.”
More than 231 people had been infected and there is a high risk of the plague spreading
In response to the threat, Madagascar’s government has closed public institutions, including schools and universities, and deployed teams to spray buildings to ward off fleas and rodents.
Large public gatherings, including concerts and sporting events, have also been banned.
People infected with plague usually develop “flu-like” symptoms after an incubation period of three to seven days, according to WHO and typical symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, chills, head and body-aches and weakness, vomiting, and nausea.