The majority of cases involve the lungs, a form of the disease called "pneumonic" Pneumonic plague is particularly unsafe, because people with pneumonic plague can infect other persons by coughing at close range. Madagascar has been hit the worst, with reports of infection in 18 out of 22 regions.
It wasn't really all that long ago that the "black death" pandemics wiped out massive chunks of the population in various European and Asian cities.
The plague is caused by bacteria usually transmitted from rodents or fleas to humans.
The port city of Tamatave, also known as Toamasina, is home of about 300,000 people and has one of the highest concentrations of cases of pneumonic plague in the country with 261 cases and 10 fatalities since the beginning of the outbreak.
Sufferers are likely to have painful lymph nodes, chills, fever, headaches, weakness and fatigue.
When the infection reaches the bloodstream, it causes skin to turn black and die, hence its menacing name. Plague bacillus, Y. pestis, enters at the bite and travels through the lymphatic system to the nearest lymph node where it replicates itself. Human to human transmission of bubonic plague is rare.
The most common, but less unsafe form of the plague is the bubonic plague, causing "inflamed lymph nodes, which can then turn to puss-filled, open sores if the condition worsens", the report read.
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Pneumonic plague, or lung-based plague, is the most virulent form of plague.
"Sometimes bubonic plague progresses to pneumonic plague‚ when the bacteria reaches the lungs‚" reads the World Health Organization website's recently updated entry on plague. Any person with pneumonic plague may transmit the disease via droplets to other humans.
Strong trade links with Madagascar have been cited as one of the reasons putting South Africa at risk of an outbreak which has infected over a thousand people in the island nation.
Pneumonic, the most lethal form has broken out in Madagascar.
The organisation says that the overall risk of the plague is very high in Madagascar and that, depending on the type of plague, there is a 30 to 100% chance of death within 72 hours if it is left untreated.
Yes. All forms of the plague are treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough.