What do I need to know before I travel?
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Bubonic Plague in Madagascar

15 Dec 2016

A media report of 6 December 2016 asserts that at least 31 people have died of bubonic plague in Madagascar's southern district of Befotaka Atsimo.

It is suspected that persistent drought has caused bush fires which have driven disease carrying rodents into villages. Fleas from the infected rodents are believed to have transmitted the disease to humans. Additionally, the outbreak is thought to have been aggravated by the poor local health infrastructure.

In response, Health Ministry and the Institut Pasteur de Madagascar in Antananarivo is said to have deployed healthcare workers to the affected area on 5 December 2016. However, poor roads from the regional capital city of Vangaindrano have reportedly impeded access to the affected populations.

Advice for Travellers

The risk to the majority of travellers, even those visiting endemic regions, is low.

  • Travellers visiting rural areas in endemic regions during ongoing outbreaks should be made aware of the risk of plague.
  • The risk will be highest in those who are camping, staying in very basic accommodation, hunting or who may have close contact with local wildlife, particularly rodents
    • such individuals should practice good insect bite avoidance and avoid close contact with sick or dead animals.

There is no commercially available vaccine against plague.