Health

Kenya on high alert after deadly plague outbreak in Madagascar

Council workers spray disinfectant as they clean-up the market of Anosibe in the Anosibe district, one of the most unsalubrious district of Antananarivo on October 10, 2017, following  a deadly outbreak of the plague. FILE PHOTO | AFP
Council workers spray disinfectant as they clean-up the market of Anosibe in the Anosibe district, one of the most unsalubrious district of Antananarivo on October 10, 2017, following  a deadly outbreak of the plague. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

Kenya has been put on high alert following the confirmation of plague disease outbreak in Madagascar.

This follows a World Health Organisation (WHO) risk assessment, which classifies Kenya as at “moderate risk of potential spread due to travel interconnection with Madagascar”.

The country is also on alert following the outbreak of the Marburg Virus Disease in neighbouring Uganda, which has killed at least two people, according to WHO.

WHO revealed that between August and October 20, a total of 849 cases of infections and 74 deaths from the plague have been reported in Madagascar. At least 49 healthcare workers have contracted the disease in Madagascar.

There are over 20 weekly flights between Madagascar and Kenya.

“This increased air travel can facilitate the spread of the disease due to short time taken to travel between the two countries.

"There is also sea transport for both passengers and cargo between Madagascar and Kenya,” said Director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kioko in a statement.

October 1

WHO reported scaling up its response to the plague outbreak in Madagascar on October 1, after the disease spread to the capital and port towns.

The reported outbreak has been affecting cities and other non-endemic areas in Madagascar since August.

Plague may be transmitted to humans by either of following ways: the bite of infected fleas, direct contact with infected fluids or tissues (either human or other infected animals), and inhalation of infected respiratory droplets.
Plague can be a very severe disease with a case-fatality ratio of 30 per cent to 100 per cent if untreated.

The disease develops within one to seven days after infection and symptoms includes sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, body aches, body weakness, nausea and vomiting.

If diagnosed early, the disease can be cured with antibiotics and supportive care.