by Margaret M. | November 1, 2017 12:56 pm
The World Health Organization is saying that a new plague outbreak is set to last for another six months, with at least 128 deaths reported so far and over 1,300 more infected.
We’re not using “plague” lightly, because the disease that is spreading in Madagascar is an even deadlier strain of the Bubonic Plague, the main player in the wider pneumonic Black Death that killed somewhere between 75 million and 200 million people in Europe and Asia in the mid 14th century.
Due to the oncoming rainy season, Madagascar’s Black Death is likely to continue to infect victims. With the extra six months, the plague has until April to find its way to the mainland and start spreading up from the southeast coast of the African continent. The plague resurfaces occasionally, but one official with the WHO has said:
“Even if the recent declining trend is confirmed, we cannot rule out the possibility of further spikes in transmission between now and April 2018. The proportion of pneumonic plague – the form which can be transmitted from person to person – is much higher than in the past.”
Outbreaks of this type are usually seasonal in nature and can be spread through coughing or sneezing. This could be an issue, as islands near Madagascar like the Seychelles and Mauritius are popular vacation destinations. The Seychelles has reacted to the news by quarantining anyone who arrives to their country from Madagascar. The WHO has so far issued specific alerts to the nine countries nearest to the large island.
It’s looking like the trouble is being caused by a tradition where locals will dig up the bodies of dead relatives and dance with them before re-burying them. The bacteria that causes the disease can remain in the body after death and the tradition has been banned since the beginning of the outbreak, but lots of people are ignoring it.
Hey, look, I don’t mean to be culturally insensitive, but maybe having a tradition where you waltz with corpses to the point where you’re infecting thousands of people with the plague isn’t a very good tradition. Lots of people have traditions about quick burials and leaving the body to rest. Those might be better. Maybe you should consider taking on one of those traditions instead.
Last winter the World Health Organization was warning us about the Zika virus, calling it a “public health emergency of international concern.” The Zika virus has been associated with microcelphay, where infected children are born with underdeveloped brains. At the time, WHO’s Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan said that while the scientific proof between the virus and the birth defect is “strongly suspected,” it was not fully proven. Pregnant women were warned against traveling to areas known to be infected with Zika, which first popped up in French Polynesia in 2014 and then last year in Latin America.
Here is a short video from Doctors Without Borders showing the current state of their treatment centers.
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