From The Daily Mail
‘It’s not possible to eradicate plague’: Scientists warn deadly disease will ravage the planet for ETERNITY as Madagascar’s ‘worst outbreak in 50 years’ continues to escalate
World Health Organization data shows 2,119 people have now been infected
Scientists are worried the ‘worst outbreak in 50 years’ has reached ‘crisis’ point
Ten countries have been placed on high alert as experts fear it will reach Africa
Other scientists fear this year’s outbreak will reach well beyond mainland Africa
Two thirds of all the cases have been caused by the airborne pneumonic plague
This can spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting and kill within 24 hours
By STEPHEN MATTHEWS FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 15:05 GMT, 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:07 GMT, 17 November 2017
The deadly plague will never be eradicated, scientists have warned amid fears the situation in Madagascar is spiralling out of control.
At least 171 people have died in the country off the coast of Africa’s ‘worst outbreak in 50 years’ and 2,119 have been infected, World Health Organization figures show.
International aid workers are desperately battling to contain the ‘crisis’, which has prompted 10 nearby African countries to be placed on high alert by the WHO.
Professor Allen Cheng, an infectious disease expert at Monash University, warned of the dangers of the plague and said this year’s outbreak has been ‘unusual’ – because it is airborne.
He wrote in a piece for The Conversation: ‘It’s not possible to eradicate plague, as it is widespread in wildlife rodents outside the sphere of human influence.’
Plague, caused by the Yersina pestis bacteria, killed hundreds of millions of people in three devastating outbreaks, including the Plague of Justinian in the 6th century.
It is easily treated with antibiotics in the current climate – however, experts are still concerned it will cause eternal havoc because it is constantly mutating.
Kyle Harper, a professor of classics and letters at the University of Oklahoma, said biological evolution is ‘cunning and dangerous’.
More than 2,000 cases have now been reported in Madagascar, health chiefs have revealed, as 10 nearby nations have been placed on high alert +11
More than 2,000 cases have now been reported in Madagascar, health chiefs have revealed, as 10 nearby nations have been placed on high alert
Professor Harper, author of The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, told Project Syndicate: ‘There still is no vaccine; while antibiotics are effective if administered early, the threat of antimicrobial resistance is real.
‘That may be the deepest lesson from the long history of this scourge. Biological evolution is cunning and dangerous.
‘Small mutations can alter a pathogen’s virulence or its efficiency of transmission, and evolution is relentless.
‘We may have the upper hand over plague today, despite the headlines in East Africa.
‘But our long history with the disease demonstrates that our control over it is tenuous, and likely to be transient – and that threats to public health anywhere are threats to public health everywhere.’
Two thirds of cases in Madagascar have been caused by pneumonic plague, which can be spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting and kill within 24 hours.
It is strikingly different to the bubonic form, responsible for the ‘Black Death’ in the 14th century, which rocks the country each year and infects around 600 people.
Others worry it will eventually hit the US, Europe and Britain, leaving millions more vulnerable due to how quick it can spread through populations.
And with the plague season expected to run until April, scientists believe there will be another spike of cases in the coming months.
Scores of doctors and nurses have already been struck down with the disease, and there are growing fears hospitals will be unable to cope if it continues its rampage.
But local officials are adamant the outbreak is slowing down as the number of new cases is on the decline.
Scientists are growing increasingly concerned this year’s outbreak has reached ‘crisis’ point +11
Scientists are growing increasingly concerned this year’s outbreak has reached ‘crisis’ point
Malawi was added to the growing list of nations placed urged to brace for a potential outbreak last weekend, becoming the tenth.
South Africa, Seychelles, La Reunion, Tanzania, Mauritius, Comoros, Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia have already been told to prepare.
Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the world-renowned University of East Anglia, was the first expert to predict the plague could travel across the sea.
He previously told MailOnline: ‘The big anxiety is it could spread to mainland Africa, it’s not probable, but certainly possible, that might then be difficult to control.
‘If we don’t carry on doing stuff here, at one point something will happen and it will get out of our control and cause huge devastation all around the world.’
Adding to the fears, he has previously warned there is a risk the disease could spread ‘globally’.
Officials in Madagascar have warned residents not to exhume bodies of dead loved ones and dance with them because the bizarre ritual can cause outbreaks of plague +11
Officials in Madagascar have warned residents not to exhume bodies of dead loved ones and dance with them because the bizarre ritual can cause outbreaks of plague
International agencies have so far sent more than one million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar. Nearly 20,000 respiratory masks have also been donated +11
International agencies have so far sent more than one million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar. Nearly 20,000 respiratory masks have also been donated
However, he was adamant that it would be easy for an economically developed country to contain the treatable disease in its current form.
Professor Hunter’s concerns echoed that of dozens of leading scientists, many of whom have predicted the ‘truly unprecedented’ outbreak will continue to spiral.
Professor Jimmy Whitworth, an international health scientist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, described it as the worst outbreak in 50 years.
And Professor Johnjoe McFadden, a molecular geneticist at Surrey University, said that the plague is ‘scary’ and is predominantly a ‘disease of the poor’.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline two weeks ago, he also said: ‘It’s a crisis at the moment and we don’t know how bad it’s going to get.’
Professor McFadden added: ‘It’s a terrible disease. It’s broadly caused more deaths of humans than anything else, it’s a very deadly pathogen.
‘It is a disease of poverty where humans are being forced to live very close to rats and usually means poor sewage and poor living conditions.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5092293/It-s-not-possible-eradicate-plague-scientists-warn.html#ixzz4ymoSyj1A
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