124 Dead as Pneumonic Plague Continues to Spread at Alarming Rate

(ANTIMEDIA) Madagascar — According to the most recent report from the United Nations (UN), a plague outbreak in Madagascar has infected nearly 1,200 people and claimed 124 lives since its inception in August.

Plague is an infectious disease that comes in two main forms, bubonic and pneumonic. The latter is far more dangerous because it can be transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets. The incubation period for pneumonic plague is short, with untreated victims dying in as little as 18 hours.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Madagascar — and potentially for the people of surrounding countries, as well — the latest report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), published Monday, says 67 percent of cases involve the pneumonic form of plague.

In all, OCHA says 14 of Madagascar’s 22 regions and 40 of its 114 health districts have reported cases of pneumonic plague. Worse, in terms of containment, OCHA says less than 30 percent of people who have had contact with victims can be traced.

In the “Situation Overview” section of the report, OCHA writes:

“Although plague is endemic in Madagascar, this season has been uncharacteristic: it started a month early, has been predominately of the pneumonic form, and has most affected the largest urban centers of Madagascar (Antananarivo and Toamasina). Many of the districts currently affected have no experience of the disease, which represents another challenge in addition to the difficulties in controlling the epidemic in urban areas.”

In this same section, OCHA says the total number of known cases, 1,192, is already “three times higher than the average annual total” for Madagascar. To put that in perspective, the World Health Organization, another U.N. body, says there were 3,248 cases of plague reported in the years between 2010 and 2015 combined.

One bright spot, according to the OCHA report, is that 780 people have thus far been cured, and six of Madagascar’s 40 affected health districts haven’t reported a new case in over two weeks.

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