By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
In Madagascar, there is a “plague season” which occurs every year, usually between September and April. Well, we’re not even half way through August and 13 suspected human plague cases have been reported in the matter of a few days–Faratsiho (9), Arivonimamo (3) and one in Ambatomirahavavy, according to a L’Express report (computer translated).
In Faratsiho, the nine cases are suspected to be pulmonary plague, a more serious form than bubonic plague that can be transmitted from person-to-person.
Bush fires and garbage piling up–“These are the forerunners of an upcoming cohabitation of humans and rats”, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said. At a recent epidemic prevention meeting, the Prime Minister issued a solemn appeal to fight the bush fires.
Health officials say there’s a lot to be done to prevent plague…it will require a social commitment.
Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is found inanimals throughout the world, most commonly rats but other rodents like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, rabbits and voles. Fleas typically serve as the vector of plague. Human cases have been linked to the domestic cats and dogs that brought infected fleas into the house.
People can also get infected through direct contact with an infected animal, through inhalation and in the case of pneumonic plague, person to person.
Yersinia pestis is treatable with antibiotics if started early enough.
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There are three forms of human plague; bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.
Bubonic plague: This is the most common form. In this form, the bacteria enter the body through the bite of an infected flea or rodent. Here the bacteria infect the lymphatic system. After a few days to week, the person will experience fever, chills, weakness, and swollen lymph glands. These are called buboes.
Untreated bubonic plague is fatal about half the time.
Septicemic plague: This form is also contracted from a flea or rodent bite. Sometimes it appears subsequent to untreated bubonic or pneumonic plague. It involves bloodstream dissemination to all areas of the body. Buboes do not occur. Symptoms are endotoxic shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Untreated septicemic plague is nearly always fatal.
Pneumonic plague: Probably the most serious form of plague and it’s when the bacteria infect the lungs and cause pneumonia. It is contracted when the bacteria is inhaled (primary) or develops when bubonic or septicemic plague spreads to the lungs.
Pneumonic plague is contagious and can be transmitted person to person. It is highly communicable under appropriate climate conditions, overcrowding and cool temperatures. Untreated pneumonic plague is frequently fatal.
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