Black Plague Warning by experts
Why in news?
The Black Death Plague could spread from Madagascar and is a sign of endless out-breaking plague.
It is described as the “worst outbreak in 50 years”. Nine countries are now on high alert amid fears the disease could go global.
The Madagascar Plague is actually THREE plagues.
- The first is bubonic – the type which ravaged Europe and the Mediterranean in the thirteen hundreds, leaving up to 60 percent dead.
- The second is pneumonic – a super strain of the yersinia pestis bacterium which ALWAYS results in death.
- The third, more rare strain, is septecaemic – a life-threatening infection of the blood.
What is Plague?
- Plague is the deadly flea-borne bacterium you might associate with the Middle Ages, when the “Black Death” killed 50 million people, wiping out most of Europe’s population.
- Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Wild rodents — chipmunks, mice, squirrels — can carry the bacteria. Fleas feed on the rodents and pick up plague, in turn spreading it to other mammals, including humans, through bites.
- Africa is particularly at risk for a number of reasons. Poor rural communities typically live in close proximity to rodents, which are widely hunted and eaten in many plague-endemic areas.
Facts about the black plague
- Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria known as Yersinia pestis and has a high fatality rate
- It is estimated that 25 per cent to 60 per cent of the European population were wiped out during the epidemic. The food source was limited, while the population was still growing fast which led to a food shortage. Crowded living conditions, coupled with a lack of hygiene, allowed diseases to spread extremely quickly
- Though the first plague epidemic occurred in the sixth century, and is often referred to as Justinian’s Plague
- In 1346, rumors of a plague that started in China and spread throughout Asia, Persia, Syria, Egypt, and India and then it reached Europe. An outbreak in Surat in India in the early 1990s caused panic across the world. The death of a herdsman in Kyrgyzstan in 2013 from bubonic plague was wildly exaggerated in the media
- The first named victims of the plague died in 1338 and 1339 in the area around Lake Issyk Kul (Lake Baikal) in Russia
- Some of medieval doctors believe that it was a punishment from God for the sins of the people while many believed that it was caused by pockets of bad air released by earthquakes or by an unfavorable alignment of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in the 40th degree of Aquarius on March 20, 1345
Treatment and precautions
- Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for plague and are most effective when given early in the course of disease. Examples of antibiotics that can be used include ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR), streptomycin, gentamicin (Garamycin), and doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox
- Diagnosis of plague depends upon identifying the causative bacteria in fluid or tissue samples
- Patients with pneumonic plague must be isolated while in treatment to avoid spreading the infection
- DEET-containing repellent can be applied on skin or clothing, while permethrin can be applied to clothing where exposure to fleas is likely