The majority of cases involve the lungs, a form of the disease called "pneumonic" Pneumonic plague is particularly risky, because people with pneumonic plague can infect other persons by coughing at close range. Latest estimates from the Ministry of Health showed that as of 18 October 2017 a total of 1032 were reported; of these, 89 deaths were documented from 38 districts within 15 Regions.
What is plague and how is it transmitted?
"Some of the neighbouring countries, namely Comoros, Mauritius and South Africa, have put in place measures to protect their population, including entry screening, information provision to passengers on how to seek medical care in case of symptoms, and other preparedness measures", it said.
Symptoms include painful, swollen lymph nodes, called bubos, as well as fever, chills and coughing.
When the infection reaches the bloodstream, it causes skin to turn black and die, hence its menacing name.
The bubonic plague is transmitted to humans by infected fleas. Plague bacillus, Y. pestis, enters at the bite and travels through the lymphatic system to the nearest lymph node where it replicates itself. "There is no inter human transmission of bubonic plague".
There are three forms of plague infection: pneumoic plague, septicaemic plague and bubonic plague, the most common form.
Contact with humans carrying the pneumonic plague is also a risk factor of acquiring the infection.
Being geometry deficient, the only thing that I, like most Americans, knew about Madagascar was that it is Africa adjacent (it is an island off the coast of Mozambique), and that it had an animated movie named for it.
Antibiotics can be used to treat it upon early detection. If left untreated, the plague can kill within one to three days.
The risk of regional spread was moderate, while the overall global risk was very low. Where plague is endemic, it is usually found in rodents and is spread by fleas from rodent to rodent, or to other mammals.
How did the epidemic start?
The deadly plague sweeping Madagascar may have a particularly gruesome cause - a local tradition of dancing with dead bodies.
The Guardian reported that the first case was a 31-year-old man visited Madagascar who fell ill with what appeared to be Malaria symptoms. The capital Antananarivo, a transport and trade hub, and the port of Toamasina are most affected.