The pneumatic plague is commonly mistaken for influenza or the common cold, worsening to pneumonia. Humans become ill usually after infected fleas bite them. Although there is no official travel ban, the Ministry of Health in Seychelles, a neighboring African island nation, has discouraged potential visitors from traveling to Madagascar at the moment due to the high risk of disease transmission, the BBC reported. Seven out of 10 cases, or 277 were of the pneumonic variety- probably the most serious form of plague, which is contagious and can be transmitted person to person. The organization has classified the event as a grade 2 emergency, meaning a single or multiple country event that poses a moderate public health threat.
The WHO is working with the country's health ministry to train local health workers on how to identify and care for patients, and how to trace people who have had close contact with symptomatic patients so that they may be given protective treatment.
The WHO and its partners have started deploying emergency response teams, and as of yesterday, 30 experts were expected to arrive, with 12 more in the process of deploying.
A basketball coach from the Seychelles died on September 27 in a hospital in Antananarivo during a basketball championship being played there.
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Madagascar is also a very poor country, and that's contributed to the outbreak.
Almost 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and £11.4 million worth of emergency funding have been sent by the World Health Organization to fight to plague.
The risk of contamination is high in overcrowded and unsanitary jails.
But this outbreak has seen two-thirds of the infections to be attributed to pneumonic plague, which is transmitted person-to-person by air, making it much more hard to control.
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Plague has fatality rates of 30-100 percent if untreated. "However, Member States should consider reviewing their preparedness plans for imported cases". Increasing resistance of fleas, which transmit the bacteria from rodents to people, is a concern.
Jocelyne Razafiarivony, from the Mothers' Union in Madagascar, commented: "We pray day and night that God would preserve Malagasy people from disease".
"Although bubonic plague occurs almost every year in Madagascar, an unusual outbreak of plague pneumonia is occurring in geographically widespread areas, including in heavily populated cities of Antananarivo (the capital city and its suburbs) and Toamasina".
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