October 23, 2017 Bill Still

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Black Death Plague in Madagascar

World Health officials worry that a Black Death plague in Madagascar is spreading from rural to urban areas. Madagascar typically reports between 300 and 600 cases of bubonic plague each year – about 80% of all cases in the world. But this year, the plague outbreak came earlier than expected and the deadlier version – pneumonic plague – is spreading rapidly into town. In the late 1340s, the black plague is thought to have killed around 25 million people in Europe, and 100 million of the world’s 450 million people. Dr. Jimmy Whitworth, professor of International Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told “The Sun” newspaper in Britain: “It has been a long time since we have seen the plague in an urban environment. The risk of it spreading internationally is low. But the risk of this continuing to spread within Madagascar is still quite high.” The most common form of bubonic plague is spread by fleas. The most dangerous form, pneumonic plague, is passed directly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Overall, bubonic plague kills around 50% of those infected. Pneumonic plague is almost always fatal if not treated by antibiotics. But there is another infectious disease story that hits a bit closer to home. England faces the worst flu epidemic in 50 years from the H2N2 flu – a particularly deadly strain. In Australia, nearly 100,000 people have come down with the flu – their most severe outbreak ever. The British National Health Service is urging Britons – especially the elderly- to get a flu shot immediately. Only 50% of the British population has gotten this year’s flu shot, which supposedly covers this particular strain.