A plague outbreak in Madagascar has infected 1,192 people since August, with 124 deaths, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster reported on Monday.
The majority of cases, 67%, were the pneumonic form of the disease, which can spread from person to person.
Plague is caused by infection with the bacterium Yersinia pestis and is typically spread through the bite of infected fleas, frequently carried by rats, causing bubonic plague. Symptoms include painful, swollen lymph nodes, called bubos, as well as fever, chills and coughing.
Pneumonic plague is more virulent or damaging and is an advanced form characterized by a severe lung infection that can be transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets such as through coughing or sneezing, for example. The incubation period is short, and an infected person may die within 12 to 24 hours.