Madagascar – Plague outbreak

31 October 2017

An outbreak of plague is reported in Madagascar. This infectious disease causes fever, chills, head and body aches, vomiting and nausea, and can be fatal. ETIC/Africa P&I Services, a local correspondent, reports that the outbreak is severe and fast spreading, affecting the whole island of Madagascar, including ports. In particular, an outbreak of pneumonic plague has been reported in the port city of Tamatave/Toamasina and the US authorities have issued a Maritime Alert urging vessels calling in Madagascar to exercise caution (click here).

The disease is spread by bites of infected fleas, inhalation of respiratory droplets/small particles from persons with pneumonic plague, and unprotected contact with infectious bodily fluids or contaminated materials. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travellers to Madagascar take the following steps to help prevent being infected:

  • “Use EPA-registered insect repellent that lists protection against fleas on the label and contains at least 25% DEET.
  • Avoid close contact with sick or dead animals.
  • Avoid close contact with seriously ill people, especially people who are coughing up blood.”

Those calling at Madagascan ports should be alert to the plague risks and take appropriate precautions to avoid infection. This may include considering limiting contact on shore, refraining from travelling in-land, and seeking prompt medical assistance in the event of suspected plague symptoms and/or after close contact with those who are infected.

For further information on the plague situation in Madagascar and advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here. Additional information on plague symptoms, treatment and prevention can be found in the WHO’s fact sheet which can be accessed by clicking here.