Less than three months ago, news began coming from Africa that a plague was sweeping through Madagascar. The cause of the outbreak had a gruesome source, an ancient local tradition of dancing with dead bodies.
Health officials have now confirmed that the plague has killed at least 143 people since August. Now Malawi, another nation in Africa has become the 10th to be warned that the disease is on its way.
The outbreak coincides with a yearly ritual which seems quite strange to us in America. Families exhume the bodies of their dead relatives, wrap them in sheets, and dance in the streets with them. Many of these dead passed away from the plague. Willy Randriamarotia, Madagascar’s health ministry chief of staff states;
“If a person dies of pneumonic plague and is then interred in a tomb that is subsequently opened for [the ritual], the bacteria can still be transmitted and contaminate whoever handles the body.”
Unfortunately, locals believe the plague is a government conspiracy. They have no intention of foregoing the sacred ritual.
More than 2,000 people have been infected in Madagascar so far and at least 143 are dead. Health officials believe they are ready for an outbreak in Malawi, a nation that has not seen the disease since 2002. Dr. Dan Namarika, principal secretary in the ministry of health stated;
“We have infection prevention materials ready and groups and teams ready to be activated if there is a trigger.”
South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, La Réunion, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Comoros have been put on alert as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged about $5 million to fight the disease. They predict that it could take six months to stem the outbreak, however. This strain of the plague can be cured with antibiotics.
In the span of one week, the number of cases has risen 8%. The biggest fear right now is the disease spreading to mainland Africa. Jimmy Whitworth, professor and health expert, describes this outbreak as the “worst in 50 years or more.”
Source: Daily Mail