Saturday, November 11, 2017

Plague fears grow as Malawi becomes tenth African nation put on alert for the spread of the killer disease

Malawi is bracing itself for an outbreak of the plague after the deadly disease continues to spread across the island nation of Madagascar. At least 143 people have died and more than 2,000 others have been infected in Madagascar since an outbreak in early August this year. South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, La RĂ©union, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Comoros have all been warned they could be at risk from a possible outbreak as well. Cases have risen by eight per cent in just the space of one week and scientists are now working hard to ensure the disease does not spread from Madagascar to mainland Africa. Health expert Professor Jimmy Whitworth described the current outbreak as the 'worst in 50 years or more'. Health officials are unsure how this year's outbreak began. However, some believe it could be caused by the bubonic plague, which is endemic in the remote highlands of Madagascar. If left untreated, it can lead to the pneumonic form, which is responsible for two thirds of the cases recorded so far in this year's outbreak. Rats carry the Yersinia pestis bacteria that causes the plague, which is then passed onto their fleas. Forest fires drive rats towards rural communities, which means residents are at risk of being bitten and infected. Local media reports suggest there has been an increase in the number of blazes in the woodlands. Without antibiotics, the bubonic strain can spread to the lungs - where it becomes the more virulent pneumonic form. Pneumonic, which can kill within 24 hours, can then be passed on through coughing, sneezing or spitting...more

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