The man who came down with first known case died on August 27.
He’d been ill for a few days with what was thought to be malaria, according to the World Health Organization. It turned out to be pneumonic plague, which is the most contagious and deadliest form of the disease, since it can spread through the air when people cough.
The man, who is unnamed in WHO documents but described as 31 years old, died while traveling by bush taxi, a form of public transport in Madagascar. He was en route to the coastal city of Tamatave from the Ankazobe District in the central highlands, and had passed through the capital city of Antananarivo.
Plague cases started to appear throughout Madagascar shortly after that, with a number traced to people that man came into contact with, and then to people those individuals encountered.
By October 12, 57 deaths from the outbreak had been confirmed. As of October 25, 124 people have died and more than 1,100 have been infected, according to Reuters.
From Daily Mail:
The plague death toll shows no sign of slowing as official figures reveal 165 have now lost their lives in Madagascar’s ‘worst outbreak in 50 years’.
Data shows a 15 per cent jump in fatalities over three days, with scientists concerned it has reached ‘crisis’ point and 10 countries now placed on high alert.
At least 2,034 people have been struck down by a more lethal form of the ‘medieval disease’ so far in the country off the coast of Africa, according to WHO statistics.
Some experts fear the disease could mutate and become untreatable during this year’s outbreak – which is expected to blight Madagascar until April.
Others worry the plague will go beyond mainland Africa and eventually reach the US, Europe and Britain, leaving millions more vulnerable due to how quick it can spread.
Experts warn the outbreak of plague in Madagascar this year is being fueled by a strain more lethal than the one which usually strikes the country.
Two thirds of cases have been caused by the airborne pneumonic plague, which can be spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting and kill within 24 hours.
It is strikingly different to the bubonic form, responsible for the ‘Black Death’ in the 14th century, which strikes the country each year and infects around 600 people.
Malawi was added to the growing list of nations placed urged to brace for a potential outbreak over the weekend, becoming the tenth.
South Africa, Seychelles, La Reunion, Tanzania, Mauritius, Comoros, Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia have already been told to prepare.
Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the world-renowned University of East Anglia, was the first expert to predict the plague could travel across the sea.
He previously told MailOnline: ‘The big anxiety is it could spread to mainland Africa, it’s not probable, but certainly possible, that might then be difficult to control.
‘If we don’t carry on doing stuff here, at one point something will happen and it will get out of our control and cause huge devastation all around the world.’
Adding to the fears, he told the Daily Star: ‘There is always a risk with travel that the disease will spread globally.
‘We don’t want a situation where the disease spreads so fast it gets out of control. We are talking about it spreading in days rather than weeks.’
However, he was adamant that it would be easy for an economically developed country to contain the treatable disease in its current form.