Would we be ready to face an epidemic of bubonic plague?
In Madagascar, the government has recently imposed two days ago new emergency measures to stop a plague epidemic. It has been declared 24 dead since 1 month1.
What is the bubonic plague?
The plague is a bacterium Yersinia pestis, present in rodents as rats are often passed to humans by infected fleas.
According to Health Canada:
The incubation period of the plague varies from one to ten days.
Whatever the form, the illness always starts with flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, muscle aches, weakness and headaches) and can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
If left untreated, the mortality rate can reach 50%.
According to Health Canada2, in the event of a spill or contaminated surfaces:
Let the aerosols fall; wear protective clothing, carefully cover the spilled material with paper towels and apply 1% sodium hypochlorite from the periphery to the center; allow to act for a sufficient period (30 minutes) before cleaning
Plague is affected by many types of surface disinfectants such as:
- 1% sodium hypochlorite
- 70% ethanol
- 2% glutaraldehyde
- iodine, phenol compounds
MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET: PATHOGENIC AGENTS, AND RISK ASSESSMENT
You are dealing with a bacterium, virus or other pathogen and you want to know more about it. Health Canada has launched an application and a website:
LAST CASE REPORTED IN CANADA
Cases of plague in humans are very rare in Canada; the last case was reported in 1939.
2 https://www.canada.ca/en/public_health/services/biosururity-biosurete-laboratory/technical-sheets-health-security-agents-pathogenes-risk-assessment/yers-in-the-health-technical-files -Security-ftss.html