Written by Julia Kirchner
There has been a plague outbreak in Madagascar and it is now spreading to other areas.
1,192 people in Madagascar have been infected in the past few months and 124 of them have died. Of these cases, 67% were communicable, meaning they can be spread from person to person. Fleas and rats are the main carriers of the version of the plague that does not spread between people.
The plague is known for its outbreak in the Middle Ages when it killed 30-60% of Europe’s population. It was referred to as the “Black Death” and was very painful for the person infected. The symptoms consist of swollen areas called buboes, coughing, chills, and fever.
The disease can be treated with antibiotics, but it must be done quickly. Infected people can die within 12-24 hours of catching it. Precautions such as cancelled schooling and disinfecting public areas are being taken to keep the plague from spreading.
There is currently a warning for nine African countries that the bubonic plague may be on its way. Fleas have been found carrying the disease in Arizona and three cases of the bubonic plague in New Mexico have been reported.
Joe Hinnebusch has been researching the plague for the National Institutes of Health. He told Vox, “A person with pneumonic plague is a public health nightmare.”