UAE authorities warn against travel to Madagascar due to plague outbreak

Ministry of Health alert after more than 70 die in Indian Ocean island

Council workers ready to start the clean-up operation of the market of Anosibe in the Anosibe district, one of the most unsalubrious district of Antananarivo on October 10, 2017.
The World Health Organization has warned that a deadly outbreak of the plague, which began in late August, has claimed more than 20 lives in Madagascar and is swiftly spreading in cities across the country. Rats are porters of fleas which spread the bubonic plague and are attracted by garbages and unsalubrity. Pneumonic plague, which is passed through person-to-person transmission, has also been recorded. / AFP PHOTO / RIJASOLO
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UAE residents have been warned to avoid travel to Madagascar following a large outbreak of what is believed to be pneumonic plague.

The Ministry of Health issued the alert on Wednesday evening after more than 70 people were reported dead.

The ministry is calling on anyone who must travel to visit the Ministry’s Traveller Health Clinics and health authorities throughout the country to learn more about the latest developments in Madagascar, for medical advice and vaccines.

Dr Fatima Al Attar, vice president of the National Committee for International Health Regulations and the Control of Pandemics, said the ministry will soon issue a circular for health workers covering essential information on the pulmonary disease, including standard definition of cases, diagnosis, isolation procedures, prevention of infection and treatment, as a precaution.

The World Health Organisation said the outbreak "carries a moderate risk of spread to neighbouring Indian Ocean islands". Air Seychelles flights to-from Madagascar were stopped from 8 October to reduce likelihood of further importation of cases. Seychelles authorities reported one case on October 10.

A total of 805 cases have been reported since August, the Madagascan health ministry said in a statement carried news agency AFP on Wednesday.

Passengers at Antananarivo's transport hubs are subject to medical inspections, infected areas have been fumigated to kill fleas, public gatherings are banned, and schools and universities have been shut to combat the outbreak.