Saturday, October 21, 2017

36.4 - We Are Not Alone: Madagascar battles pneumonic plague

We Are Not Alone: Madagascar battles pneumonic plague

This is our new weekly feature, We Are Not Alone - a reminder that we are not the only nation on this planet and there are billions of people who have their own concerns without caring if it affects us or not.

First up this week, Madagascar is fighting an outbreak of pneumonic plague. There had been 805 cases reported by October 10; 74 people had already died.

Madagascar has a century of experience battling bubonic plague, which is transmitted by fleas jumping from infected rats to humans. The country sees about 400 cases a year, which is half the world's total. It is fatal about the half the time, if untreated, which it can be with antibiotics.

But this is pneumonic plague, spread through coughing, sneezing, or spitting and is almost always fatal if untreated. In some cases, it can kill within 24 hours.

World health officials, including the WHO and the Red Cross, and the government of Madagascar, have rushed out resources to fight the outbreak, but obstacles, especially in getting aid to the rural highlands, remain and the death toll is likely to mount.

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