A shocking outbreak of plague has killed 40 people; almost 80 more are infected with the deadly disease.
The World Health Organisation is warning of a “rapid spread” of the disease on the island of Madagascar, where the number of cases in the capital Antananarivo is rocketing.
The WHO also said that that the situation has been made worse due to he high levels of resistance to insecticide that fleas on the island have. The leading insecticide used in Madagascar is next to useless against the fleas that carry the deadly disease.
Humans usually develop the plague after they have been bitten by fleas that are vectors for the disease; the fleas are carried on rodents, usually rats and although the disease can be cured by antibiotics if caught early, 2% of the cases in Madagascar are the dangerous pneumonic form of the disease. This variant is spread by coughing and develops quickly.
The first case was diagnosed in a village 200km West of the capital. However, it has already spread to the capital, with one death and another person dangerously ill.
The WHO said: “There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system.” Prisoners in Madagascar’s rat-infested prisons are thought to be a high-risk category and the WHO has started a task force to tackle the plague outbreak.