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Monday, October 14, 2013

African nation faces 'black death' resurgence

The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] has issued a warning that Madagascar is facing a crisis, unless steps are taken to combat an onslaught of bubonic plague. The relief agency fears that if an epidemic were to occur it could possibly escape the island nation, leading to a global pandemic; in 2012 that threat was very real, with Madagascar reporting 256 plague cases resulting in 60 deaths.

Mass grave of 18th century plague victims
According to the ICRC the situation in Madagascar is due to some of the most vile, unsanitary prison conditions on the planet. Infested with flea-ridden rats, the jails have become breeding grounds for the lethal illness; these fleas not only spread the disease to prisoners, guards and visitors alike but also travel in and out of the prisons with their rodent hosts, expanding the potential of an epidemic.

Due to its virulent history bubonic plague - also known as 'black death' - is one of the most feared diseases on the planet, though modern knowledge makes it one of the more easily managed. Attention to sanitation combined with vigilant pest-control is vital to combating it, with early detection and treatment greatly enhancing an infected individual's survival chances; if left unchecked, however, it can kill someone in as little as four days.

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