At least 40 people were killed in an outbreak of plague in Madagascar island as the Ebola is taunting the other side of Africa.
The disease may spread rapidly as fleas on the island have been found with high levels of resistance to a leading insecticide, BBC reported citing a World Health Organisation (WHO) warning.
Humans usually develop the bubonic form of the plague (swollen lymph nodes especially occur in the armpit and groin in persons suffering from bubonic plague) after being bitten by an infected flea carried by rodents, the report said.
If diagnosed early, bubonic plague can be treated with antibiotics. Two percent of all the cases reported in Madagascar were found to be the more dangerous pneumonic form of the plague, which can be spread person-to-person by coughing, according to WHO.
The first known case was a man hailing from the Tsiroanomandidy district, about 200 km west of the capital Antananarivo during the end of August.
There have now been two confirmed cases in the capital city, including one 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 health care system,” the WHO said. A task force has been formed to manage the outbreak.
It may be recalled that plague wiped out humanity in Europe and Africa in the medieval period.
Plague is spread from rodents by flea ectoparasites and to humans either by the bite of infected fleas or when handling infected hosts. Recent outbreaks have shown that plague may reoccur in areas that have long remained silent.
Untreated, mortality – particularly from pneumonic plague – may reach high levels. When rapidly diagnosed and promptly treated, plague may be successfully managed with antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline, reducing mortality from 60% to less than 15%.