It is believed that almost 2,000 individuals are infected with the deadly airborne plague ravaging Madagascar.
In the last five days, cases on this island east of Africa have increased by 37 percent.
The World Health Organization believes this outbreak is the worst in fifty years and, if the disease continues to spread at its current rate, tens of thousands will be infected within a matter of weeks.
According to the UK Daily Mail:
Academics have revealed such a jump in cases over the period of five days is concerning and have predicted it could get worse. The most recent statistics show there have been 127 deaths.
Professor Robin May, an infectious diseases expert at Birmingham University, told MailOnline that ‘whichever way you look’ at the outbreak, it’s ‘concerning definitely’.
Analysis of figures by MailOnline show the epidemic could strike a further 20,000 people in just a matter of weeks, if current trends continue. It could be made worse by crowds gathering for an annual celebration to honour the dead earlier this week […]
Two thirds of this year’s cases have been caused by the airborne pneumonic plague and means it is spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting. It is different to the traditional bubonic form that strikes the country each year.
Close neighbors of Madagascar–such as South Africa, Seychelles, La Reunion, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Comoros, and Mauritius–have been warned.
This is officially a crisis.
There are many reasons why this plague is hitting Madagascar harder this year:
This year’s outbreak has started earlier as forest fires have driven rats into rural communities, which has then spread into cities for the first time, local reports state.
It comes amid warnings annual celebrations to honour the dead saw large crowds gather in cities, increasing the risk of infection.
All Saints Day, otherwise known as the ‘Day of the Dead’, is a public holiday which takes place on November 1 each year, sees families often gathering at local cemeteries.
‘In that type of situation, it may be easy to forget about respiratory etiquettes,’ Panu Saaristo, the International Federation of Red Cross’ team leader for health in Madagascar, told MailOnline.
And earlier this week MailOnline revealed the ‘Godzilla’ El Niño has been blamed for the severity of this year’s outbreak by causing freak weather conditions.
What type of plague is this exactly?
Some are theorizing this outbreak could have been “caused by the bubonic plague, which is endemic in the remote highlands of Madagascar. If left untreated, it can lead to the pneumonic form.”
The pneumonic, or pulmonary, plague is “spread through coughing, sneezing, or spitting and can kill within 24 hours if untreated.”
It is believed that two thirds of these cases are the pneumonic plague.
Though no one is exactly sure how this outbreak started, with the first death occurring in August, experts believe that this plague has not yet reached its peak.
The Red Cross is providing aid and has set up their first make-shift aid station to help those suffering.
What can be done to help stop the spread of these plagues? How much should the United States be involved in humanitarian efforts such as these?