Plague in Madagascar hits urban areas, kills 2 dozen people

Face masks are placed on children in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed at least two dozen people, and the government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city.(AP Photo/Alexander JOE)
A child wears a face mask at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed at least two dozen people, and the government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city. (AP Photo/Alexander Joe)
Children wear face masks at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed at least two dozen people, and the government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city. (AP Photo/Alexander JOE)
A motorcyclist and passenger wear face masks on a road in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed at least two dozen people, and the government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city.(AP Photo/Alexander JOE)
A man wears a face mask on a road in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed at least two dozen people, and the government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city. (AP Photo/Alexander JOE)

JOHANNESBURG — Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed two-dozen people in recent weeks and has prompted a ban on large public gatherings in the capital to curb the disease's spread.

The dead include a basketball coach from the Seychelles who was participating in a tournament in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo. Five people have died of plague in the capital, reported L'Express de Madagascar, a daily newspaper.

The government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city, compelling students to stay at home in the coming days. Many people have bought surgical masks and other medical supplies in large quantities, raising concerns about a shortage of medicine.

"Once everybody hears that this is a major thing, everyone runs out and buys everything at the pharmacy," said Joshua Poole, the Madagascar representative for Catholic Relief Services, an aid group based in Baltimore, Maryland. "Access to those essential items is a challenge."

Poole said the death of the basketball coach from the Seychelles had attracted more international attention to this year's outbreak of plague, which is endemic to Madagascar.

The coach, 49-year-old Alix Allisop, died in a hospital on Wednesday after experiencing breathing problems, according to the Seychelles News Agency.

A jazz festival, Madajazzcar, canceled its opening concert in Antananarivo this week and suspended other events until further notice.

Plague has also been reported in the port city of Toamasina in eastern Madagascar and other cities.

At least 114 people have been infected with plague and the disease is affecting large urban areas unlike like past outbreaks, increasing the risk of transmission, the World Health Organization said Sunday.

WHO, which is sending more staff and supplies, including antibiotics, to Madagascar, said about 400 case of plague, mostly bubonic, are reported every year in the country. The last reported outbreak in Madagascar occurred in a remote area in December 2016 and was mostly bubonic plague, the United Nations health agency said.

"Bubonic plague is spread by infected rats via flea bite, pneumonic by person-to-person transmission. The current outbreak includes both forms of plague," the agency said. It described plague as a "disease of poverty" that can kill quickly if untreated but can be cured if antibiotics are administered early.

___

Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris

People also read these

AB de Villiers to miss NZ test series but not...

Jan 17, 2017

AB de Villiers will sit out South Africa's test cricket series in New Zealand but the batsman...

Sri Lanka beats South Africa by 5 wickets to win...

Jan 25, 2017

Niroshan Dickwella struck a crucial 68 as Sri Lanka beat South Africa by five wickets in...

Coetzee retained as Springboks coach despite big...

Feb 27, 2017

Allister Coetzee has been retained as South Africa head coach despite a dire first season in charge...

All Blacks squeeze past Springboks 25-24 for...

Oct 7, 2017

New Zealand has weathered a Springboks storm to win 25-24 in the Rugby Championship and complete...

Oscar Pistorius bruised in a jail fight over...

Dec 12, 2017

Olympian Oscar Pistorius, in jail for murdering his girlfriend, was bruised in an altercation with...

Sign up now!

Daily Sprinter delivers the cutting-edge content from game reports to viral videos for our audiences worldwide. Our passionate writers strive to deliver a unique approach to the hottest sports news.

Contact us: sales[at]dailysprinter.com