A plague that has claimed the lives of 140 people has the potential to mutate and become untreatable.
The first individual to die from this outbreak was a man in Madagascar.
According to Business Insider, this individual had been sick for days–what some assumed to be malaria–and then died at the end of August.
It turned out to be pneumonic plague, which is the most contagious and deadliest form of the disease, since it can spread through the air when people cough.
The man, who is unnamed in WHO documents but described as 31 years old, died while traveling by bush taxi, a form of public transport in Madagascar. He was en route to the coastal city of Tamatave from the Ankazobe District in the central highlands, and had passed through the capital city of Antananarivo.
Soon, cases of the pneumonic plague appeared throughout Madagascar and some could trace their infection “to people that came into contact with, and then to people those individuals encountered”.
From the end of August through the end of October, 124 deaths were confirmed with 1,100 infected.
As was reported by the end of October, this plague “can be treated effectively with antibiotics if it’s caught early enough” and the World Health Organization “announced that they’d delivered 1.2 million doses of antibiotics to the island nation and authorized $1.5 million in funding to help fight the disease.”
According to The Sun:
Health protection expert says it is possible for disease to spread to Europe and North America like Ebola did in 2014.
Professor Paul Hunter also said it was possible for the disease to reach Europe and North America like the Ebola virus did in 2014 following an outbreak in West Africa.
Hunter, who lectures in health protection at the University of East Anglia, said: “As with any disease, it’s a real worry that it mutates and become untreatable.”
He told the Daily Star: “If it reaches the UK, Europe or the US it would be similar to the Ebola outbreak.
“We would probably have a few isolated cases but it shouldn’t spread like it has in Madagascar.”
The island, located off the southeastern coast of Africa, has seen 143 of its citizens from over 2,000 people infected.
Two thirds of the cases have been reported as pneumonic which is the most lethal strain.
Dr Charlotte Ndiaye, who works for the World Health Organisation in Madagascar, said: “WHO is concerned that plague could spread further because it is already present in several cities and this is the start of the epidemic season, which usually runs from September to April.”
The disease can be spread by coughing, sneezing, spitting and through contact with other fluids.
It is related to the Black Death which killed around 200 million people in Europe and Asia between 1346 and 1353.
This is a terrifying development. If the World Health Organization does not find a way to stem the spread of this infection, some of the science fiction movies we watch could be reality.