Black Death in Madagascar

by CONNOR McNALLY

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that a deadly outbreak of the bubonic plague and pneumonic plague (AKA the Black Death) has occurred in Madagascar.  More than 50 million people were killed in Europe by the “black death” in the 1300s.  The plague first appears as “flu like” symptoms during the incubation period of 3-7 days. Subsequently,  chills, nausea, muscle aches, weakness, and onset fevers arise. Many historians believe the “black death” was composed of several killer diseases including both pneumonic and bubonic plague.  Modern medicine has not reached its potential to cure or stop the “Black Death”.   

Eastern and central Madagascar are the worst hit by the outbreak and are receiving emergency funding from WHO. The plague has a fatality rate of 30-100 percent.  If not contained, the plague can be spread by person to person or by air and water. This makes the plague extremely difficult to control.

The outbreak has been traced back to a 31-year-old man who died while on a public service vehicle in eastern Madagascar. Two others who had come into contact with the man later died. It gained widespread attention following the September death of a Seychelles basketball coach who had traveled to Madagascar for a tournament. As of Sunday, Seychelles national air carrier announced that it had temporarily suspended services between the region and Madagascar. All public institutions in Madagascar have been shut down including schools, and universities. Teams from WHO have been deployed to Madagascar to treat the plague with what they can and try to exterminate as many rodents and mosquitoes as they can. Large public gatherings are also shut down including sports and concerts.

Pneumonic plague is probably the most serious form of plague–it’s when the bacteria infect the lungs and causes pneumonia. It is contracted when the bacteria is inhaled (primary) or develops when bubonic or septicemic plague spreads to the lungs.  Untreated pneumonic plague is frequently fatal.

Madagascar’s ministry of health is asking all persons to stay home if needed to leave be conscious since the plague is spread from rats but then can be transferred from humans to humans. Madagascar is now saying no foreign travelers may enter the country due to the plague.  As of October 25, the plague killed close to 125 in Madagascar and 1,200 people are infected. A warning has been issued and Madagascar has closed all borders and ports. South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, La Réunion, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Comoros have all been issued plague warnings since they have the most trade with Madagascar. Many countries including the US, UK, and many European nations are advising people (tourists) not to go to Madagascar unless on business with WHO or with the Health ministry of the United Kingdom.

 

**More updates will be released by WHO in the upcoming days and  weeks.**