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Russia’s consumer rights watchdog warns against visiting Madagascar over plague outbreak

November 23, 2014, 22:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The World Health Organization said in a report that the plague outbreak in Madagascar had already claimed the lives of 40 people since August

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© Archive/AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh

MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. Russia’s consumer rights watchdog (Rospotrebnadzor) recommends Russian tourists not to visit Madagascar over an outbreak of plague in that country, Rospotrebnadzor said in a release posted on its official website on Sunday.

“According to Madagascar’s ministry of health, an outbreak of plague has been reported in 16 districts of seven regions of the country, including in the capital city Antananarivo, where two plague cases with one lethal outcome were registered,” the agency said and recommended to refrain from trips to this region.

On Friday, the World Health Organization said in a report that the plague outbreak in Madagascar had already claimed the lives of 40 people since August and the overall number of cases reached 119. Plague was caused Yersinia pestis strain of bacteria and transported by fleas. “There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city’s high population density and the weakness of the healthcare system. The situation is further complicated by the high level of resistance to deltamethrin (an insecticide for eliminating fleas) that has been observed in the country," WHO said.

In a period from 2004 to 2013, WHO reported more than 13,000 plague cases, of which 896 resulted in deaths, in 16 countries of Asia, Africa and America. African countries, according to WHO, account for 97.6% of plague cases.

Plague is a bacterial disease, caused by Yersinia pestis, which primarily affects wild rodents. It is spread from one rodent to another by fleas. Humans bitten by an infected flea usually develop a bubonic form of plague, which is characterized by a bubo, i.e. a swelling of the lymph node draining the flea bite site. If the bacteria reach the lungs, the patient develops pneumonia /pneumonic plague/, which is then transmissible from person to person through infected droplets spread by coughing. Initial symptoms of bubonic plague appear 7-10 days after infection. If diagnosed early, bubonic plague can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Pneumonic plague, on the other hand, is one of the most deadly infectious diseases; patients can die 24 hours after infection. The mortality rate depends on how soon treatment is started, but is always very high.

Plague is known for killing millions of people in Europe in the Middle Ages.

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