Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Two dozen dead as Madagascar struggles to contain plague

Melissa Porter | 07 October, 2017, 05:07

The Public Health Authority issued an update on the local response to the plague outbreak on Thursday, saying that "consistent with International Health Regulations and Public Health Act, the Authority, in the interest of public health is requesting Air Seychelles to suspend all its flights to Madagascar until further notice".

The outbreak in recent weeks has led to the country's government banning large public gatherings in the capital in a bid to curb the spread of the disease.

According to World Health Organization, the plague has struck both port towns and the capital alike. Five people have died of plague in the capital, reported L'Express de Madagascar, a daily newspaper.

Forty-nine-year-old Alix Allisop, died in a hospital after experiencing breathing problems, according to the Seychelles News Agency.

Antananarivo also began disinfecting school classrooms in the capital after ordering students to stay at home for the coming days while a jazz festival due to be held in the capital this week was cancelled.

An outbreak of highly contagious pneumonic and bubonic plagues has claimed 30 lives in the impoverished Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar over the past two months. Many people have bought surgical masks and other medical supplies in large quantities, raising concerns about a shortage of medicine. "Access to those essential items is a challenge". Humans bitten by an infected flea usually develop a bubonic form of plague, which swells lymph nodes and can be treated with antibiotics.

WHO, which is sending more staff and supplies, including antibiotics, to Madagascar, said about 400 case of plague, mostly bubonic, are reported every year in the country.

But the more risky pneumonic form invades the lungs and can kill a person within 24 hours if not treated. However, the current outbreak is unusual as it has affected urban areas, increasing the risk of transmission, said the WHO.