Face masks are placed on children in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on Oct. 3, 2017. (Alexander Joe/AP Images)
Face masks are placed on children in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on Oct. 3, 2017. (Alexander Joe/AP Images)

Being geography deficient, the only thing that I, like most Americans, knew about Madagascar was that it was Africa-adjacent (it is an island off the coast of Mozambique) and that it had an animated movie named for it.


Unfortunately, the nation of 24 million has a point of infamy these days: The island nation is the site of the black death, the very same plague that decimated Europe many centuries ago.

CNN reports that since August, more than 1,192 people have been infected with the plague, and 124 have died.


Two-thirds of the cases are the pneumonic form of the disease, which can spread from person to person. CNN reports:

Plague is caused by infection with the bacterium Yersinia pestis and is typically spread through the bite of infected fleas, frequently carried by rats, causing bubonic plague. Symptoms include painful, swollen lymph nodes, called bubos, as well as fever, chills and coughing.

Pneumonic plague is more virulent or damaging and is an advanced form characterized by a severe lung infection that can be transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets such as through coughing or sneezing, for example. The incubation period is short, and an infected person may die within 12 to 24 hours.

A silver lining in this matter is that the plague can be treated with antibiotics if caught soon enough. Since Aug. 1, 780 individuals have been cured of their infection.

Public schools are now closed in Madagascar, and the government has banned public gatherings.


The World Health Organization has provided the medications to treat up to 5,000 people and protect 100,000 people who may have been in contact with infected individuals.

Read more at CNN.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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