The plague outbreak in Madagascar was discussed in Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Margaret Chan;s address to the Executive Board Monday.
The outbreak that included 119 cases including 40 deaths last November has increased to 213 cases and 57 fatalities and in light of the recent tropical storm and flooding on Madagascar, which has displaced tens of thousands of people and untold numbers of rats,the risk of more plague is something to be concerned about.
Chan said of the Madagascar plague outbreak:
“This is the kind of geographically focused and readily manageable outbreak that WHO was designed to contain. Plague is endemic in Madagascar, where seasonal outbreaks are amplified by the dual forces of poverty and unplanned urbanization. Detected early, the disease responds well to treatment. Researchers at the country’s Institut Pasteur, supported by WHO, have developed a cheap and reliable diagnostic test that delivers results in 15 minutes.
“But the outbreak that started last November has some disturbing dimensions. The fleas that transmit this ancient disease from rats to humans have developed resistance to the first-line insecticide. Plague established a foothold in the capital city, affecting densely populated slums. This is alarming, as around 8% of cases progress to the lethal pneumonic form, which transmits directly from person to person.”
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