Madagascar is currently experiencing a plague outbreak, and about 1 300 suspected, probable and/or confirmed cases were reported between August and October this year, with at least 93 confirmed deaths.
Briefing the media on Tuesday, October 31, South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases Deputy Director, Professor Lucille Blumberg, said the plague is being controlled and interventions seem to be working. This pneumonic plague has been dominant as compared to a seasonal plague that is usually experienced in Madagascar, she added.
Madagascar is the only African country that still experiences annual plague outbreaks when compared to other countries.
No plague cases in SA
Blumberg said there has been no case of the plague exported from Madagascar to other countries to date.
She said there was a concern in the Seychelles where a suspected case was identified in one of the citizens who had travelled to Madagascar, but the tests that were performed excluded plague as a cause of his illness. This means that no cases of exporting the disease were reported.
Blumberg said Madagascar has a number of measures in place to reduce the export of people with the plague. They have exit screening at the airport, they do temperature monitoring, they have medical staff at the airport and to date they have done very well with regards to the exit screening.
She said the WHO has moderated the risk assessment for the region, and the initial high alert has been changed from moderate to low.
Measures in place to reduce risks
“While we have no plague cases in South Africa, we are, however, in the region and we have a number of measures in place to reduce the risks to our shores. Together with the exit screening at the Madagascar airport, we have entry screening in South Africa where we can test for temperatures, we have sent out guidelines on clinical presentation of plague -- when to suspect it or to test for it,” Blumberg said.
“There are no cases of plague in South Africa, and no exports of the disease to other countries,” Blumberg concluded.