Plague is endemic on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar where outbreaks have resurfaced often since 1980 and are blamed mainly on rats and flea infestation due to unbridled deforestation. A ministry official revealed that eight people have died in two days of pneumonic plague in Madagascar.
Pneumonic plague is rare and is more vicious than the commonly-known bubonic strain as it gives antibiotics little time to act and can kill a person within 24 hours. It can be spread from person to person through coughing.
Maherisoa Ratsitorahina, the health ministry's chief epidemiologist, said, "Twelve cases of pneumonic plague have been identified, out of which eight people have died in two days. The disease was under control and was confined to Antsahatsihanarina village, which is less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the city of Moramanga in the east of the island."
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned early in 2015 that the number of plague cases has steadily increased over the last three years, making Madagascar the world's most affected country. In 2013, Madagascar registered 86 cases and 39 deaths while between September 2014 to February 2015, a total of 263 people were infected cases and at least 71 killed.