Evidence of plague found in dead rat in South African rubbish dump
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it is taking measures to prevent the outbreak of bubonic plague in humans after a dead rat, found in an informal settlement in Mayibuye in Tembisa, near Pretoria, tested positive for plague antibodies on 16 March.
According to John Frean, Associate Professor at the Centre for Opportunistic, Tropical and Hospital Infections at the NICD, the discovery is reason to intensify monitoring and control to prevent the disease occurring in humans.
Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia Pestis. It is usually spread between rats by bites and by fleas. It is also usually spread to humans by fleas carrying the bacteria from rats. In the 14th century it was known as the Black Death in Europe and killed tens of millions of people. If left untreated, 30% to 60% of people with it die.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, about 1,000 to 2,000 cases worldwide are reported to the World Health Organisation annually, though it is believed the real number of cases is much higher.
The last outbreak of bubonic plague in South Africa was 34 years ago in the Eastern Cape, according to the NICD. The NICD has asked people not to handle live or dead rodents.
Nigeria: TB Epidemic Hits Anambra
Over 2000 tuberculosis patients are currently receiving treatment at various Directly-Observed Therapy (DOT) centres in Anambra State.
Nigeria has the highest burden of the disease in Africa, and the fourth highest among the 22 high burden countries with an annual incidence of 338 per 100,000, and prevalence of 322 per 100,000 individuals.
Untreated infected individuals can spread the disease to between 10 to 20 persons each year within the poor population, and other key affected populations, including people living with HIV.
Many people in Nigeria still believe that the disease is caused by witches and wizards, making modern treatment often problematical.