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Plague in Madagascar

06 Sep 2021

The Madagascar Ministry of Public Health (via media, in French) have reported 22 cases of of pneumonic plague, including 7 deaths. The outbreak is in Miandrandra commune, Arivonimamo district, where the first death was reported in the week of 23 August 2021. The area is now under quarantine and movements of local people within the area are restricted. 

Plague is a severe bacterial infection which spreads to humans mainly by the bite of infected fleas, or from having close contact with infected animals or people.

Advice to travellers

Plague is rare in travellers. The risk is highest if you visit countries it is common in and participate in activities which may bring you into close contact with local wildlife, particularly rats or other rodents or people infected with plague. Activities which may increase this risk include:

  • camping, or staying in very basic rural accommodation
  • walking, hiking or working outdoors
  • hunting or participating in activities which involve close contact with wildlife
  • caring for a sick person who has plague in their lungs (pneumonic plague): this spreads between people through breathing in droplets caused by them coughing or sneezing, or by touching their infected body fluids

No vaccine is available for plague. To reduce your risk of exposure, you should:

    • practice good insect bite avoidance measures: insect repellents should protect you against flea bites
    • avoid any close contact with sick or dead animals
    • avoid crowded areas in regions where plague has recently been reported
    • making sure you know how to protect yourself if working in a healthcare setting
    • seek prompt medical attention if you develop a high temperature (fever) or other 'flu-like' symptoms and there is a risk you may have been exposed to plague