The death toll in Madagascar continues to rise due to the bubonic plague outbreak. The health ministry reported the disease killed forty-seven so far, but it could become worse since the plague is now in the capital Antananarivo and deltamethrin, the leading insecticide against fleas, is not working.
The suspected cases of the plague are up to 138. Health ministry secretary general Philemon Tafangy said over “200 households have been disinfected.” Fortunately, the disease is easily treated. Tafarngy said “antibiotics have been given to all those who had come in contact with the infected.” However, if the disease reaches the lungs, it turns into pneumonic plague. This strain can kill the patient within 24 hours. Both strains are contagious through coughs. Over 2% of the cases in Madagascar are the pneumonic plague.
Patients and victims face a stigma similar to those with Ebola in West Africa. A woman passed away from the plague in Ankasina. Her mother, Bernadette Rasoarimanana, said “community members have been giving them ‘dirty looks’ since the death of her daughter.”
Plague is spread between rodents through fleas. A person contracts the disease through a bite from an infected flea. Ankasina is a slum that is overcrowded and infested with rats.
“Our neighbourhood [sic] is really dirty and has been neglected by the state for a long time,” said Rasoarimanana.
WHO is working with the Red Cross and the Madagascar government to treat the outbreak. The African Development Bank donated $200,000 for relief.
“WHO is providing technical expertise and human resources support,” the organization said in a statement. “Measures for the control and prevention of plague are being thoroughly implemented in the affected districts. Personal protective equipment, insecticides, spray materials and antibiotics have been made available in those areas.”