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The Black Death Spreads Through Madagascar Claiming 57 Lives Thus Far

OCT 17, 2017 | KRISTI ROSA
The majority of these cases—474 (69%)—are classified as pneumonic plague, while bubonic plague accounts for 156 (22%); in addition, there has been 1 case of septicaemic plague, and 54 cases have not been specified. Of the 684 cases, only 63 have been confirmed, with 271 cases marked as probable and 350 still marked as suspected.

A recent WHO press release suggests that the disease may have also made its way to Seychelles. On October 10, 2017, the WHO was notified of a probable case of pneumonic plague by officials from the Seychellois Ministry of Health. The case in question was a 34-year-old man who had returned home from Madagascar on October 6, 2017. Quickly after returning to Seychelles (October 9), the man developed symptoms and went to a local health center for care. After suspecting pneumonic plague, healthcare providers referred him to a hospital, where he was isolated and received treatment. On October 11, 2017, a rapid diagnostic test came back as “weakly positive,” for the infection and since then, the case remains probable until the WHO can provide confirmation.

Between October 9-11, 2017, 8 of the patient’s contacts also presented with mild symptoms. They have since been isolated as well. According to the WHO, 10 specimens have been taken from the man, his contacts, and 2 suspected cases. The specimens are being sent to Institut Pasteur in France to be tested.
In response, flights from Seychelles to and from Madagascar have been stopped. However, the WHO has not called for travel and trade restrictions as of yet. The Madagascar Ministry of Health has teamed up with the WHO to implement “exit screening at the international airport in Antananarivo to prevent international spread.” WHO and partners are also working on strengthening security measures at entry points as well.

Public health response efforts include the creation of a Crisis Emergency Committee, who have been channeling their efforts into coordinating surveillance, contact tracing, case management, isolation, and providing supplies.

To keep up-to-date on the latest case/death counts of the plague outbreak in Madagascar, be sure to check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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