GIS - 28 November 2014: A National Preparedness Action Plan for Plague is being elaborated by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in collaboration with concerned stakeholders following the recent outbreak of plague in Madagascar. The action plan covers measures that are deemed necessary to ensure a state of preparedness for any possible scenario.
This was announced yesterday by the Senior Chief Executive of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Mrs J. Veerapen, at a press conference in Port Louis. She elaborated on the various measures that are being taken to prevent the reintroduction of the disease in the country.
The National Preparedness Action Plan will make provision for the following measures: Planning and Coordination; Control at Points of Entry; Active case detection among incoming passengers; Rodent control; Monitoring of pets; Flea surveillance and control; Hospital preparedness; Laboratory preparedness; Communication; Outbreak investigation and response activities and Disease surveillance.
The representatives of the various departments concerned who were also present reassured the population that no plague cases have been detected in Mauritius since the last fifty years and that there is a low risk of the spread of the disease owing to the effective healthcare system that exists. Moreover, they appealed to passengers travelling to Madagascar to take all the necessary precautionary measures to avoid contaminated areas and abide to the travel advisory issued by the World Health Organisation for travelers visiting Madagascar.
Other preventive actions being taken pertain to: the setting up of a Task Force at the level of the Ministry to monitor measures already implemented and reinforcing same wherever deemed necessary; setting up of a Sectoral Committee to overview the progress achieved in the past with regards to the control of other communicable diseases; reinforcement of the Rodent Control Unit at the Ministry to prevent the proliferation of rats which are the main vectors of the disease.
Other measures that are being implemented are namely: Border control which consist of scrutiny of the ship sanitation certificate by the Port Health Authority in accordance with the International health Regulations; inspections of ships to ensure the absence of rodents on board; fumigation operations; the extermination of rats exercise within the premises of the Port and Airport; and monitoring of passengers arriving from endemic areas at points of entry.
Plague is a zoonotic disease affecting rodents and transmitted by fleas from rodents to other animals and to humans. It occurs in three main clinical forms namely: Bubonic plague, Septicaemic plague and Pneumonic plague. Direct person-to-person transmission does not occur except in the case of Pneumonic plague when respiratory droplets may transfer the infection from the patient to others in close contact.
With regard to the recent outbreak of the disease in Madagascar as of 16 November 2014, a total of 119 cases of plague have been confirmed including 40 deaths. Out of this, 2% of reported cases are of the pneumonic form. As for the Bubonic form, without prompt and effective treatment 50%-60% of cases are fatal while untreated septicaemic and pneumonic cases of plague are invariably fatal.
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