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Madagascar's Pneumonic Plague Turns Deadly

September 11, 2021 • 10:20 am CDT
(Precision Vaccinations)

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) report issued on September 10, 2021, thirty cases of pneumonic plague have been reported in the Republic of Madagascar.

Pneumonic plague is one of several forms of plague and is endemic in Madagascar.

The WHO previously confirmed seven cases have been fatal, all of them in the municipality of Miandrandra.

Madagascar's last major plague outbreak was in 2017, which resulted in 209 deaths; these were classified as pneumonic plague.

The Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and is mainly transmitted to humans through bites of infected fleas, says the U.S. CDC. Y. pestis is easily destroyed by sunlight and drying. Even so, when released into the air, the bacterium will survive for up to one hour, although this could vary depending on conditions.

To reduce the chance of death, antibiotics must be given within 24 hours of first symptoms. Streptomycin, gentamicin, tetracyclines, and chloramphenicol are all effective against pneumonic plague.

Because human plague is rare in most parts of the world, there is no need to vaccinate persons other than those at particularly high risk of exposure, says the CDC.

In 2020, U.S. FDA inventors confirmed they developed a candidate oral vaccine against plague.

This vaccine consists of a synthetic gene construct that expresses a Y. pestis F1-V fusion antigen linked to a secretion signal, resulting in the production of large amounts of the F1-V antigen. The F1-V synthetic gene fusion is cloned within Ty21a, an attenuated typhoid fever strain licensed for human use as a live oral bacterial vaccine.

Madagascar is located off the east coast of central Africa, with about 28 million residents.