Death toll in Madagascar plague outbreak climbs to 124

At least 124 people have now been killed in a plague epidemic in Madagascar since August, the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management said Wednesday. In addition, 1,192 cases of the disease have been registered in the country. Plague outbreaks in Madagascar are common, and usually occur every year during the rainy season in the country. This year, however, the number of registered cases is already three times higher than average. Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis which can develop into two main clinical forms of infection: bubonic and pneumonic. The virus can be transmitted between animals and humans by the bite of infected fleas or the inhalation of infected respiratory droplets. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the bubonic plague fatality rate ranges between 30-60 percent. Pneumonic plague, WHO says, is “always fatal” when left untreated. The UN affiliated health agency says 584 deaths have resulted from plagues in 3,248 cases reported worldwide between 2010 to 2015.