Plague in Madagascar spreads to capital

Plague in Madagascar spreads to capital

Madagascar said Monday it was trying to contain an outbreak of plague — similar to the Black Death that swept medieval Europe — that has killed 47 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo.

The health ministry said there had been 138 suspected cases since the beginning of the year and warned that the death toll was likely to rise in coming months.

Two people have been infected in Antananarivo, one of them dying, and health workers have mounted a pest control campaign through slum areas around the city, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The health ministry’s secretary general, Philemon Tafangy, said “two hundred households have been disinfected” this month.

He said those who had contact with the infected had been given antibiotics in a bid to arrest the spread the disease. …

Plague is spread by fleas and mostly affects rats, but humans can also contract the disease if they are bitten by a disease-carrying flea. …

The situation in Madagascar is all the more worrying because of a high level of resistance to insecticides targeting fleas, the U.N. health agency said.

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