Any of you planning a trip soon to Madagascar?
You probably need to rethink those plans for now.
Plague in Madagascar
Pneumonic plague is the most severe form of plague. It can become a life-threatening situation in just 24 hours and can begin to spread from person to person in droplets, coughed or sneezed.
World Health Organization Alert
October 6, 2017
This week WHO delivered over 1 million doses of antibiotics and released US$1.5 million in emergency funds to fight plague in Madagascar and made a new commitment, with partners, to reduce cholera deaths by 90%.
“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,” said Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO Representative in Madagascar. Most of the cases reported are pneumonic plague – a dangerous form of the disease that affects the lungs and is transmitted through coughing at close range.
WHO has delivered 1,190,000 doses of antibiotics to the Ministry of Health and partners this week, and a further supply of 244,000 doses is expected in the days ahead.
The different types of drugs will be used for both curative and prophylactic care. They are enough to treat up to 5000 patients and protect up to 100,000 people who may be exposed to the disease.
The medicines are being distributed to health facilities and mobile health clinics across the country with the support of the Ministry of Health and partners.
WHO is appealing for US$5.5 million to effectively respond to the outbreak and save lives.
October 6, 2017
An unusually deadly seasonal outbreak of plague has gripped the island nation of Madagascar. As of Friday, 258 have been sickened and 36 have died just since August, according to Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health.
To try to stifle the spread, the government has forbidden public gatherings, including sporting events, and schools have closed for insecticide treatments that kill plague-spreading fleas. People have swarmed pharmacies, desperately seeking face masks and any antibiotics they can get. The World Health Organization on Friday announced that it has released $1.5 million in emergency funds and delivered nearly 1.2 million antibiotic doses to help combat the outbreak.
Plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is endemic to Madagascar and pops up all year-round. But outbreaks can erupt between September to November, with seasonal shifts in rat and flea populations. Rats, which harbor the bacteria, tend to see their populations plump and peak around harvest times in July and August. A boom in the flea population, which transmits the disease, follows in tandem. But as crops are harvested and the weather cools, the rat population shrinks, and the surging, hungry batch of fleas turns to humans.
The island has been battling the disease since it arrived there on steamboats from India in 1898. (The disease still appears in many countries around the world, including the US, but most epidemics occur in African countries.) Madagascar got a handle on its seasonal outbreaks during the 1950s with the help of antibiotics, insecticides, and better hygiene campaigns. But it lost its grip in the 1990s when it started seeing increases in case counts. In recent years, the country has tallied between 275 and 675 cases annually (PDF).
But this year is different. The disease is spreading not just in rural, agricultural areas; it’s also spreading in cities. As of September 30, the disease had taken hold in 10 cities across the island, including the capital, Antananarivo.
“WHO is concerned that plague could spread further because it is already present in several cities and this is the start of the epidemic season, which usually runs from September to April,” Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO representative in Madagascar, said in a recent statement.
So one question, if this is a recurring problem there and rats appear to be one of the culprits, then why haven’t measures been taken for the last hundred years to eliminate all rats most particularly in dilapidated and squalor areas?
Also with the tremendous rise in rat populations in major US cities like New York, this would be a very good time to get a grip on finding ways to combat the rat populations not only for this plague but other diseases as well.
Between 1900 and 2015, there have been 1,036 human plague cases in the U.S. On average about nine people in the country contract the plague. Dr. Paul Mead, chief of Epidemiology, Bacterial Diseases Branch with CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases noted the bacteria that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, cycles naturally through rodents, and the fleas they carry, in western states. U.S. outbreaks of the disease
occur most often in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Colorado.
Just hearing the word plague is enough to bring collective horror to many people. With today’s more rapid travel and communication systems, such a disease like others can easily and quickly become epidemic if not pandemic.
Illegal immigrant and refugee areas of the US are experiencing a rise in several diseases once thought under control like measles, tuberculosis, and leprosy. It isn’t particularly the fault of those entering as much as the areas they came from and poor health vetting before they enter.
However, this is also something that is concern for the entire western world as the masses of incoming people create the perfect environment for a modern-day “Black Death scenario.”
The huge number of natural disasters and the murderous activities of radical extremists are of particular concern for the world. Of course, the possibly criminal activities either pharma, chemical conglomerates or even “garage” scientists where they genetically alter species such as mosquitoes or viruses have definitely not helped. One case in point is Zika Virus.
Just a side note here. It is odd that the posts I found on these problem actually came from liberal/progressive news media. How much is hype or political agenda I wonder?