Plague – Madagascar
BUBONIC PLAGUE: WIPED OUT A THIRD OF EUROPE IN THE 14TH CENTURY
Troubled times: A town crier calls for the dead to be bought out in this drawing of London from 1665
On 4 November 2014, WHO was notified by the Ministry of Health of Madagascar of an outbreak of plague. The first case, a male from Soamahatamana village in the district of Tsiroanomandidy, was identified on 31 August. The patient died on 3 September.
As of 16 November, a total of 119 cases of plague have been confirmed, including 40 deaths. Only 2% of reported cases are of the pneumonic form.
Cases have been reported in 16 districts of seven regions. Antananarivo, the capital and largest city in Madagascar, has also been affected with 2 recorded cases of plague, including 1 death. There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system. The situation is further complicated by the high level of resistance to deltamethrin (an insecticide used to control fleas) that has been observed in the country.
Full story at: http://www.who.int/csr/don/21-november-2014-plague/en/
A fact sheet on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site notes that if someone with “advanced knowledge and technology” were somehow able to aerosolize the bacterium, it could cause damage.
“Yersinia pestis used in an aerosol attack could cause cases of the pneumonic form of plague,” the CDC says. “One to six days after becoming infected with the bacteria, people would develop pneumonic plague. Once people have the disease, the bacteria can spread to others who have close contact with them. Because of the delay between being exposed to the bacteria and becoming sick, people could travel over a large area before becoming contagious and possibly infecting others. Controlling the disease would then be more difficult.”
Pneumonic plague differs from bubonic plague in its symptoms and the fact that it can be spread through the air rather than just by contact.
Unlike bubonic plague, pneumonic plague can be spread from person to person. According to the CDC, “Pneumonic plague affects the lungs and is transmitted when a person breathes in Y. pestis particles in the air.”