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Madagascar plague set to last another SIX MONTHS as health officials warn Black Death pandemic could explode

World health officials say rainy season poses a big threat to containing the spread of the disease. At least 128 people have been killed and more than 1,300 infected by the deadlier pneumonic strain of the Medieval disease

Danny Collins, The Sun, Nov 2, 2017

Madagascar's deadly Black Death outbreak could last another six months - with officials warning the oncoming rainy season could see the pandemic explode

And while health officials have seen a slight dip in victims, they warned it could explode at any point between now and April.

Tarik Jasarevic 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.

The disease notoriously wiped out one third of Europe's population in the 13th and 14th centuries in one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, known as the Black Death.

Dr Ashok Chopra, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas, told The Sun Online that the crisis in Madagascar had yet to peak.

The nine countries the WHO has warned of being at risk are:

He warned it was possible for the deadly plague to move further into the region given the regular flights going in and out of the country.

Dr Chopra said: "If they are travelling shorter distances and they're still in the incubation period, and they have the pneumonic (form) then they could spread it to other places.

"We don't want to have a situation where the disease spreads so fast it sort of gets out of control."

Dilys Morgan, Head of Emerging Infections and Zoonoses at PHE, said: "The risk to people in UK is very low, but the risk for international travellers to and those working in Madagascar is higher."

"It is important that travellers to Madagascar seek advice before travelling and are aware of the measures they can take to reduce the risk of infection. The UK has robust systems in place for assessing illness in persons returning from travel or work overseas."

"Plague is no longer the threat to humans that it was centuries ago, as antibiotics work well if treatment is started early."

Plague is an infectious disease caused by bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas.

It has an extremely high fatality rate and is very infectious, although it can be treated by antibiotics if it's caught early.

There are three forms of plague infection: pneumoic plague, septicaemic plague and bubonic plague, the most common form.

Bubonic plague was known as the Black Death in medieval Europe, where an outbreak brought entire civilisations to their knees and decimated the world's population.

Black Death is spread through the bite of infected fleas, whereas pneumonic plague, the most contagious form, develops after a bubonic infection.

Pneumonic infections can then be spread through the air, while septicaemic plague occurs when infection spreads through the bloodstream.

The three different types of plague all refer to different ways the disease can be spread.

In bubonic infections, plague-causing bacteria can be transmitted between animals and fleas, with infected fleas then passing the disease on to people through bites.

Infected people may then develop pneumonic plague once their bubonic infection becomes advanced.

Lung-based pneumonic plague can then sometimes be transmitted through the air between sufferers.

Following a pneumonic or bubonic infection, people can then develop septicaemic plague, which occurs when the infection spreads through the bloodstream.

The World Health Organisation describes plague symptoms as "flu like", with one to seven days between incubation and the symptoms emerging.

Sufferers are likely to have painful lymph nodes, chills, fever, headaches, weakness and fatigue.

In bubonic sufferers, these inflamed lymph nodes may end up turning into pus-filled open sores.

Bubonic plague is fatal in 30-60 per cent of cases, while the pneumonic kind is always fatal, if left untreated.

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