A likely outbreak of bubonic plague in Nyimba District in Eastern Province, Zambia has resulted in at least three deaths, according to as Times of Zambia report.
The report notes: Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo disclosed during the Provincial Epidemics Preparedness Prevention Control and Management meeting in Chipata yesterday that the outbreak of the suspected plague had so far affected 13 people from Kavyeni Village.
Mr Kasolo said in a speech read on his behalf by assistant secretary Beenzu Chikuba that health workers from Nyimba District health office and some from the provincial health office had already been dispatched to address the situation.
Blood samples have also been collected from patients and sent to Lusaka awaiting confirmation of the disease.
Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. It is found in animals 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.
There are three forms of human plague; bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic.
Bubonic plague 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.