An outbreak of plague in Madagascar has killed 19 people, and may have infected 85 others in just two months, the country’s health minister said on Thursday.
Plague, a highly infectious disease carried by small mammals like rats, is reported to have killed millions across the world in the past, but has been largely wiped out.
“We have recorded 104 suspected cases of plague across Madagascar of which 19 have died,” Health Minister Mamy Lalatiana Andriamanarivo announced.
The first death occurred on August 28 when a passenger died in a public service vehicle on the east coast.
Two others who came into contact with the passenger also dies, with two more succumbing to the disease in the centre of the island.
Plague outbreaks have been reported in Madagascar every year since 1980, often fuelled by rats fleeing forest fires.
The infectious disease can be cured with antibiotics, but can be fatal within 24 hours if it affects the lungs.
The high incidence in Madagascar has been attributed to poor hygiene and insufficient healthcare.