Plague Spreads in Madagascar: What’s Causing This Deadly Outbreak?

Oct 6, 2017

By Sara G. Miller

More than 30 people in Madagascar have died from an outbreak of the plague, and nearly 200 have fallen ill since August, according to news reports.

Experts say these numbers represent the deadliest outbreak of the disease on the African island-nation in years, according to The Washington Post. Last year, for example, 63 people died out of 275 cases.

The plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which lives in fleas and rats. In Madagascar, the plague is considered a seasonal worry: At the end of the harvesting season, rat populations drop because they don’t have enough to eat. As a result, fleas start looking for new hosts to bite, and so begin targeting humans, according to NPR.

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