Health, National

A rare and deadly plague sweeps through Madagascar

Relatives dancing with the corpses of their loved ones contract and then spread the plague. IMAGE: AFP OR LICENSORS

After a span of almost 50 years, a rare and deadly plague broke out in Madagascar affecting major cities and surrounding areas. The plague has caused 143 deaths while around 2,000 more were affected. Due to the severity of the deadly plague, WHO raised alert level and issued warnings have been issued for nine other countries, including South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

According to reports, the plague is said to be spreading because of the hundreds-year-old tradition of Madagascaran people which includes digging out the graves of their loved ones and dancing with it.

This tradition is held once a year and it involves the family touching the coffin of the dead and thus getting in contact with the infected dead bodies. The tradition is known as Famadihana or the body turning. The tradition is under scrutiny as the plague is known to have started spreading in the time of its celebration.

Different types of plague cases have been reported including Pneumonic plague, the most deadliest type that can spread from human to human. There have also been cases of other types of plagues such as Bubonic and Septicemic, plagues caused by bacterium. The death toll has increased up to 8% in just a week while scientists are working to make sure the infection doesn’t spread to mainland Africa.

Free medication to treat the plague available but the locals refuse to seek help or go to the doctor out of fear of being diagnosed with the plague. Some families are refusing to give up on the infected corpses of their family members which are seized by the police.

The neighboring country of Malawi prompted officials to put the country on high alert due to fears that the disease could spread across international borders. Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Dan Namarika, said Malawi has a special team that is involved with the Mozambique counterpart of report on the plague in case any outbreak occurs.

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