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New advice issued for Irish people travelling to Madagascar after plague outbreak

At least 54 people have been killed in the outbreak.

Children wear face masks at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Children wear face masks at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Image: Alexander Joe/AP/Press Association Images

THE DEPARTMENT OF Foreign Affairs has issued updated travel advice for Irish travellers in Madagascar after an outbreak of plague, which has killed scores of people.

Plague outbreaks are common on Madagascar, where the disease is endemic – but this year both bubonic plague, spread by infected rats via flea bites, and the pneumonic type, spread person-to-person, have hit urban areas, including the capital Antananarivo, leaving at least 54 dead.

“There is currently an outbreak of pneumonic and bubonic plague in Madagascar,” an update in the Department’s travel advice section said. 

You should contact your flight operator or travel agent if you intend to travel this route.

The latest Madagascar health ministry report this week says 500 cases and 54 deaths have so far been recorded, with around half of each occurring in the capital.

The Seychelles government has begun to quarantine people who have arrived from Madagascar in the last week – and fresh travel advice for the island archipelago has also been issued by the Department.

It advises Irish travellers:

Direct flights from Madagascar to Seychelles are suspended until further notice. The Ministry of Health in Seychelles is currently imposing a six day quarantine on all individuals arriving from Madagascar. You should contact your flight operator or travel agent if you intend to travel this route.

The Seychelles government ordered schools to close yesterday, after the discovery of two suspected cases of plague thought to have been brought from Madagascar.

The health ministry has also put under surveillance 320 people who have come into contact with the two patients.

A total of 12 people showing plague-like symptoms have been admitted to hospital and given antibiotics.

Panic gripped parents on the Indian Ocean archipelago after some students developed fevers in recent days, leading to the school closures.

“We made this decision as a precautionary measure to reassure parents,” said Merida Delcy, an adviser to the education ministry, noting that they would not reopen until Wednesday at the earliest.

Preliminary tests on the two people, including one who returned from Madagascar a week ago, showed they could have the plague, the health ministry said.

“It has not yet been confirmed that the two people are sick due to plague, samples will be sent this weekend to the Institut Pasteur (in France),” public health commissioner Jude Gedeon said. The results are expected next week.

The sick include a student at Anse Boileau Elementary School on the main island of Mahe where all students have since been given antibiotics.

As fear of plague spreads, there has been a run on surgical masks which people hope will offer protection against the highly infectious disease.

With reporting by - © AFP 2017

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