Tourists Advised To Stay Away As Madagascar Plague Outbreak Kills 94
Tourists are being warned to stay away from Madagascar after a deadly outbreak of plague which has so far left 94 dead.
The epidemic is currently contained on the East African island, but World Health Organisation officials are warning that it could spread further.
The number of suspected cases has now surpassed 1,150 and is expected to keep rising.
Outbreaks of plague are not uncommon on the island, but this year's bout differs in that it has affected Madagascar's two largest cities, Antananarivo and Toamasina.
"Outbreaks of plague tend to be seasonal and occur mainly during the rainy season, with around 500 cases reported annually; whilst outbreaks are not uncommon in rural areas, the latest outbreak has seen an increase in reported cases in urban areas, including Antananarivo," the FCO says.
Over 70 percent of cases are pneumonic plague, a more virulent form of the disease that is easily spread through coughing, sneezing and spitting. It is almost always fatal if left without treatment.
Like bubonic plague, the illness can be treated with antibiotics if caught in time, but it does have the potential to kill within 24 hours.
Officials have said that the chances of a global outbreak are very low, but that preventative measures are being taken in nearby areas.
"We are working with health authorities to reduce the risk of the spread of plague in the Seychelles by improving surveillance and preparedness," Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO regional emergencies director for the Africa region, told the Mirror.
"I'm confident that with the strong team we have on the ground, combined with more partners coming and health workers, we will be able very quickly to reverse the trend."
Jimmy Whitworth, professor of International Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Sun: "It has been a long time since we have seen the plague in an urban environment.
"The risk of it spreading internationally is low. But the risk of this continuing to spread within Madagascar is still quite high."
In Uganda, WHO is working tirelessly to halt the spread of Marburg, a highly infectious disease similar to Ebola, which killed a 50-year-old woman, three weeks after her brother died of similar symptoms.
"The teams have already investigated the area, identified potential contacts and monitoring these contacts. We are getting daily updates from the team, we are confident that... we will be able to contain it very quickly," Fall said.
Featured Image Credit: PA