Outbreak of Plague in Madagascar

60 people have died so far due to an outbreak of plague in Madagascar. According to the World Health Organisation, Madagascar witnesses about 400 cases of plague every year. However, this year infections have started much earlier and are spreading from remote rural areas to cities  as well.

Most cases were pneumonic plague, a dangerous and severe infection of the lung. It is highly infectious and can be transmitted through air by coughing and sneezing. It invades the lungs and can lead to death within 24 hours.

156 cases were attributed to bubonic plague, an infection that is transmitted by rats and spreads to humans through flea bites. It can be very painful and causes fever, headache, chest pain as well as swollen lymph nodes.

While both forms of plague can be treated it is important to detect the illness at an early stage and get medical help to people as soon as possible. The WHO has helped with millions of doses of antibiotics. The International Red Cross has set up treatment centres  throughout the island. In addition the government has been supplying people with masks and has closed down schools.

Madagascar, with a population of 25 million,  has witnessed outbreaks of plague since the 1980s, usually during the rainy season between November and March.  Officials fear that this time the disease  might not be contained and could spread to many regions of the country.

The most deadly plague in history occurred in Europe in the 14th century.  About a third of the continent’s population when  killed as sailors brought the infectious disease from Asia.

International Red Cross  parcel arriving at a treatment centre
International Red Cross parcel arriving at a treatment centre

Words

  • according to = as reported by
  • antibiotic = medicine that is used to kill bacteria and cure infections
  • attribute = to believe that something is caused by …
  • century = a hundred years
  • chest = front part of your body between your neck and stomach
  • contain = to stop something from spreading
  • detect = discover, notice
  • dose = an amount of medicine that you should take
  • due to = because of
  • flea = very small insect without wings that bites animals and people and eats their blood
  • in addition = also
  • infectious = disease that can be passed on from person to person, mostly by air
  • invade = here: attack
  • lymph node = small round swelling in your body with liquid that helps fight off infections
  • occur = happen
  • official = person in a high position in the government
  • outbreak = when something suddenly starts
  • remote =  far away
  • rural = in the countryside
  • severe = very bad
  • spread = move from one place ot another
  • supply = give
  • swollen = larger than normal
  • throughout = all across
  • transmit = to pass on to another person
  • treat = cure an illness with medicine and other drugs
  • treatment centre = place where people can come to in order to get medicine
  • witness = experience ; see something happen
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation which helps countries improve health care  by giving people medicine and providing information about diseases