British tourists warned about travelling to Madagascar as outbreak of PLAGUE strikes paradise island leaving 90 dead
British tourists have been warned about travelling to Madagascar as an outbreak of plague has struck the paradise island leaving 90 dead.
An unusually large outbreak in the country has taken 94 lives, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
The number of suspected cases has reached 1,153, Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, Africa emergencies chief for the U.N. health agency, told reporters in Geneva.
More cases are expected, ‘but we think we can affect the curve very quickly thanks to the deployment of human resources and all types of intervention,’ he said.
International agencies have sent more than one million doses of antibiotics and deployed medical teams.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘There is currently an outbreak of pneumonic and bubonic plague in Madagascar.
‘Outbreaks of plague tend to be seasonal and occur mainly during the rainy season, with around 500 cases reported annually.
‘Whilst outbreaks are not uncommon in rural areas, the latest outbreak has seen an increase in reported cases in urban areas, including Antananarivo.’
Madagascar, off the coast of Africa, is a popular destination for British and European travellers.
Plague is endemic in Madagascar, but this year’s outbreak is unusual because for the first time the disease has affected the Indian Ocean island’s two biggest cities, Antananarivo and Toamasina.
More than 70 per cent of the cases are pneumonic plague, a more virulent form that spreads through coughing, sneezing or spitting and is almost always fatal if untreated.
In some cases, it can kill within 24 hours.
Like the bubonic form that often is found in Madagascar’s remote highlands, it can be treated with common antibiotics if caught in time.
WHO has said the risk of global spread of the outbreak is low and it advises against travel or trade restrictions. It seeks $5.5 million to support the plague response.
The Red Cross is sending its first-ever plague treatment center.