End Madagascar’s Plague Outbreak

Target: Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa

Goal: Fight the current plague outbreak in Madagascar and take steps to improve village hygiene to prevent future outbreaks.

For most people in developed nations, the word “plague” likely conjures up images of Europe in the Middle Ages. Yet for the people of Madagascar, plague is very much a current threat. Since the beginning of August, there have been over 1,800 cases of plague with 127 deaths. In the modern age, we cannot stand by and allow people to be killed by this horrible but highly preventable disease.

Plague is usually spread by the bites of infected fleas, who transmit the plague bacteria from rats to people. However, in this particular outbreak, about 60% of cases have been pneumonic plague. In cases of pneumonic plague, bacteria infect the lungs and can become airborne when the person coughs or sneezes. Because pneumonic plague can spread from person to person, it can spread extremely rapidly, especially in crowded urban areas. Thus far, health officials have been able to prevent this plague outbreak from spreading to mainland Africa. However, they have warned that several other countries are at risk, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Plague is endemic to Madagascar, and each year a small number of cases are reported, generally between November and March. But this year, plague has gotten out of control. One contributing factor may be the timing; the first cases of plague began appearing in August, catching health officials off guard. Health officials need funding and resources to combat the current outbreak of plague. But a larger, more comprehensive public health response is needed to prevent future plague outbreaks. In an interview with NPR, Dr. Daniel Bausch, director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, said that poverty was a major contributing factor to plague outbreaks. Avoiding interaction with rats is key to preventing plague, “but,” Dr. Bausch explains, “if you are pretty poor – not everyone in Madagascar is, but some people are – things like storing your food out of reach of rodents and not having any garbage around your house isn’t necessarily a given.”

We must take action to ensure that the people of Madagascar have adequate sanitation and standards of living. It is unconscionable to allow our fellow humans to live in conditions where they must interact with rats on a daily basis and are at risk of dying of plague. Sign this petition to urge Dr. Moeti of the WHO to increase funding for plague prevention in Madagascar.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Moeti,

Madagascar is experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of plague. Officials are taking steps to fight the present outbreak by treating patients with antibiotics, but this is only a temporary solution to Madagascar’s century-long battle with plague. Unless steps are taken to decrease contact between people and infected animals, outbreaks will only get worse as Madagascar’s population continues to grow.

We ask that you do all you can to work with your colleagues at the WHO to improve living conditions in villages in the plague-prone areas of Madagascar. Only by reducing the contact that people are forced to have with rats and fleas, and by improving access to healthcare, will future plague outbreaks be prevented.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Hery Zo Rakotondramanana

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    stop plague. remember what happened in medieval europe where they get plague?

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