SA takes measures against plague

SOUTH Africa has taken several measures to prevent the importation of an outbreak of a plague into the country following the confirmation of 449 cases in Madagascar. According to the Department of Health, the plague is a zoonotic disease caused by a bacterium Yersinia pestis.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed 449 cases of an outbreak of a plague in Madagascar, with 48 deaths.

The outbreak is primarily located in the middle third of the island, around the Antananarivo (239 cases and 21 deaths) and Toamasina Province on the east coast (147 cases and nine deaths).  A single area on the northern coast is affected.

According to the department, where a plague is an endemic, it is usually found in rodents and is spread by fleas from rodent to rodent, or to other mammals.

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“Humans may acquire the plague from persons with pneumonic plague through droplet transmission or from direct contact with infected rodents or through the bite of an infected flea. The incubation period ranges from two to eight days,” the department said.

Symptoms of pneumonic plague include coughing, fever and chest pain.

“South African travellers to Madagascar are advised to avoid highly populated areas, and to wear surgical masks while in transit. Liberal application of DEET-containing insect repellent is advised to prevent flea bites. Prophylactic antibiotics are not advised,” the department said.

All travellers returning from Madagascar must monitor their health for 15 days and seek medical care immediately at their nearest health facility if they develop fever, chills, head and body aches, painful and inflamed lymph nodes, or shortness of breath with coughing and/or blood-tainted sputum.

Read also: Vaccine refusal ‘endangers everyone’ says Health Minister

 

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