Plague in Madagascar

Updated: December 07, 2017

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Original publication date: October 13, 2017

What is the situation in Madagascar?

From August to November 2017, Madagascar experienced a serious outbreak of pneumonic plague. On November 27, the WHO reported that this outbreak has been contained. It is expected that cases of plague will continue to be reported in Madagascar. Cases are expected to be mostly bubonic plague as bubonic plague is reported nearly every year between September and April in Madagascar.

Although the outbreak has been contained, the World Health Organization and Madagascar's Ministry of Public Health are still monitoring and responding to this situation. To help prevent international spread of plague, they have implemented exit screening for those departing the country.

Exit screening occurs at airport, ports, and border crossings. This may include:

Cooperation with exit screening helps to contain a disease, and prevent a larger epidemic.

What is plague?

Plague is a disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis.  This bacteria is usually found in small animals (including rats, squirrels and other rodents) and their fleas.

You can become infected with plague through:

There are three types of plague:

What are the symptoms of plague?

Symptoms of plague can appear one to seven days after contact and they can vary depending on the form of plague. They are usually flu-like and can include the following:

Is there a vaccine for plague?

There is no vaccine available for travellers.

All forms of plague can be effectively treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early.  If left untreated it can progress rapidly to death.

How can you protect yourself from plague?

Before you travel you should:

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel. 

During your trip:

Protect yourself from flea bites while travelling to Madagascar.

Avoid contact with:

If you have had contact with someone with pneumonic plague, you should immediately contact a health care provider.  You may need antibiotics to prevent infection.

Wash your hands frequently.

Health care workers that may come into contact with someone with pneumonic plague:

While you are in Madagascar, or returning to Canada:

Monitor your health

If you develop symptoms of plague:

Stop the spread of germs

Registration of Canadians Abroad

Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.


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