Bubonic plague, which has been feared for centuries and killed millions of people, is in danger of making a comeback in Madagascar. The island’s rat infested jails are at a particularly high risk from the disease and the number of cases tends to rise during October. Hot humid weather attracts fleas which can transfer the disease from rats to humans. With 236 plague cases and 60 deaths last year, Madagascar is currently the world’s hotspot for the plague.
Nobody wants a return to the days of the Black Death. Approximately 25 million people were killed in Europe during the Middle Ages as a result of the plague, and it is important that pest numbers are kept under control as much as possible. Pest control supplies are readily available in the UK at affordable prices, but this is not necessarily the case elsewhere in the world.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been working with local Madagascan health groups since February 2012 in an attempt to improve prison hygiene. Christophe Rogier from the ICRC said: “If the plague gets into prisons there could be a sort of atomic explosion of plague within the town. The prison walls will never prevent the plague from getting out and invading the rest of the town.”
The last significant public outbreak of bubonic plague happened in 2010 in Peru when 12 people were infected. However, with 3000 inmates at the Antanimora prison, a huge rat population is spreading rapidly and infecting food supplies, bedding, and clothing with fleas.
The ICRC’s Evaristo Oliviera explains:
“A prison is not a sealed place, first of all the staff themselves who work in the prison are at risk, and they go home at the end of the day, already perhaps being a vector of the disease. Also the rats themselves, they can go in and out of the jail and also propagate the disease. And the prisoners do have visitors who can be also infected, and the prisoners eventually go out as well so we have many many ins and outs for the disease to spread.”
Without access to the correct pest control products, there is little hope of containing the rats. After all, the authorities do not just need to eliminate the rats – they have to get rid of the fleas that travel on them too. This will require a significant amount of effort and investment from the local authorities. However, the cost of not containing the population of rats could be a lot higher if a plague does break out and people start getting sick.
Pest control UK is in good order thanks to a wide public knowledge of the threats that rodents can cause to local health and environments. It is important to always be on your guard and look out for pests. At the first signs of trouble, it is advisable to deal with the problem straight away. The Madagascan authorities will hopefully start to control the situation before it’s too late.