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Friday, October 27, 2017

THE FEAR OF POSSIBLE SPREAD OF BLACK DEATH PLAGUE


Black death is a disease caused by bacterial strains called Yersinia pestis

Black death is a disease caused by bacterial strains called Yersinia pestis 



Fears have been raised that the deadly plague spreading across Madagascar could spread to other countries via sea and air.



The huge island nation off the coast of south-east Africa has been hit with a fatal outbreak of the disease, which has so far claimed at least 124 lives and infected 1,333 people.

The plague has already spread from the Ankazobe District, where the outbreak originated, into the capital of Antananarivo and the port city of Toamasina. 

In the majority of recorded cases, the victim has been infected with pneumonic plague, the deadliest strain of the disease which has a 100 percent fatality rate if not treated.

It is the same form of plague that killed an estimated 200 million people across Europe and Eurasia in the 14th century, in one of the deadliest pandemics in human history that became known as the Black Death. 

Unlike the more common bubonic plague, which is usually contracted via flea bites, the pneumonic plague is airborne and can be transferred via coughing and sneezing. 

Initially, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said there was a relatively low risk of the outbreak spreading beyond Madagascar, as the incubation period for pneumonic plague is incredibly short and most people infected with it would be too ill to travel. 

But as the outbreak continues to spread, health officials are worried the plague could reach overseas as infected travellers pass the bacteria on during plane or boat trips. 

Nine nearby countries - South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, La Réunion, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Comoros - have all been put on notice and launched emergency plans in case of spread. 

Unicef, the Red Cross, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have all mobilised teams to prepare for such a scenario. 
They aim to increase public awareness to increase surveillance, particularly at borders, draw up contingency plans and sourcing medication.

In its latest update, the WHO said: “Nine countries and overseas territories have been identified as priority countries in the African region for plague preparedness and readiness by virtue of having trade and travel links to Madagascar. 

“WHO is prepositioning equipment and supplies, including personal protective equipment, antibiotics and other equipment required to safely identify plague cases, in Comoros, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Tanzania.

The organisation added: “Due to the increased risk of further spread and the severe nature of the disease, the overall risk at the national level is considered very high. 

"The risk of regional spread is moderate due to the occurrence of frequent travel by air and sea to neighbouring Indian Ocean islands and other southern and east African countries, and the observation of a limited number of cases in travellers.”

A suspected case of one man presenting symptoms of pneumonic plague having recently travelled to Madagascar turned out to be a false alarm, and the patient has since been discharged.

But Dr. Ashok Chopra, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas, told The Sun Online: "If they are travelling shorter distances and they're still in the incubation period, and they have the pneumonic (form) then they could spread it to other places.

"We don't want to have a situation where the disease spreads so fast it sort of gets out of control."

He added: "Most of the cases in the past have been of the bubonic plague but if you look at this particular outbreak, 70 percent of the cases are a pneumonic plague, which is the most deadly form of the disease.

"If the treatment is not given in a very short period of time these people will end up dying."



Source: Express.UK-By Ross Logan

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