Madagascar’s Black Death Plague Outbreak Could Explode
Madagascar’s deadly Black Death outbreak could last another six months with officials warning the oncoming rainy season could see the pandemic explode.
At least 128 people have been killed and more than 1,300 infected by the deadlier pneumonic strain of the medieval disease.
And while health officials have seen a slight dip in the number of victims, they warned it could explode at any point between now and April.
Tarik Jašarević of the World Health Organisation told The Sun: "We cannot say with certainty that the epidemic has subsided.
"We are about three months into the epidemic season, which goes on until April 2018.
"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."
The Foreign Office recently warned that the deadly outbreak is entering its most dangerous phase.
Its website said that "outbreaks of plague tend to be seasonal and occur mainly during the rainy season."
The African island's wet season officially began today and will last until the end of April.
And because the disease can be spread easily through a cough or sneeze, experts are fearful just one traveller could take the infection with them to Africa's mainland or even nearby Brit honeymoon paradises like Mauritius, the Maldives or the Seychelles.
The Seychelles is currently putting anyone travelling from Madagascar into quarantine on arrival.
The Sun yesterday reported how the outbreak has been fuelled by performing the ancient practice of Famadihana - which sees locals dig up deceased relatives and dance with them before they are re-buried.
It is feared the ceremony has helped spread an outbreak of pneumonic plague that has left more than 120 dead on the African island.
The country's health chief Willy Randriamarotia said: "If a person dies of pneumonic plague and is then interred in a tomb that is subsequently opened for a Famadihana, the bacteria can still be transmitted and contaminate whoever handles the body."
The tradition has been banned since the outbreak began, but it is feared ceremonies have taken place regardless.
Some locals are openly dismissing the advice.
One said: "I have participated in at least 15 Famadihana ceremonies and I've never caught the plague."
The latest warning came as British aid workers said the epidemic will get worse before it gets better.
Olivier Le Guillou of Action Against Hunger said: "The epidemic is ahead of us, we have not yet reached the peak."
As many as 50 aid workers are believed to have been among the 1,200 people infected with the more dangerous airborne pneumonic strain of the disease.
The Sun revealed yesterday how warnings have been issued for nine countries surrounding Madagascar amid fears the disease could spread via sea trade and flight routes.