The World Health Organization (WHO) are warning there is “something different” about the new Black Death epidemic sweeping the globe.
Over 1,300 cases of the pneumonic plague have already been confirmed, as the disease continues to spread rapidly throughout Africa.
Dailystar.co.uk reports: Countries affected include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion.
So far, the virus has killed 124 people and infected around 1,300, but scientists say this figure will definitely rise.
The World Health Organisation, which has been working with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, has warned the risk of the epidemic spreading is “high”.
“Plague, though terrifying, is nothing new in Madagascar, where about 600 cases are reported annually,” the organisation said on its website.
But officials said while “health officials couldn’t explain it”, the plague is different this time.
A Crisis Emergency Committee has been established in response to the outbreak, which will “coordinate surveillance, contact tracing, case management, isolation and supplies” until it is contained.
Air Seychelles, one of Madagascar’s biggest airlines, stopped flying earlier in the month, in an effort to contain the spread and airports are screening passengers to avoid spread of the plague.
Schools and businesses have been closed, and large public gatherings have been cancelled.
A WHO official said: “The risk of the disease spreading is high at national level… because it is present in several towns and this is just the start of the outbreak.”
The last significant outbreak of the disease occurred nearly a century ago in Los Angeles, when a two-week epidemic killed 30 people.
There are three types of plague – bubonic affecting the lymph nodes, septicaemia which causes bleeding under the skin, and pneumonic which affects respiration.
The WHO describes the pneumonic plague as “the deadliest and most rapid form of plague”.
Nearly 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and £11.4 million worth of emergency funding have been sent by the WHO to fight to plague.
People infected with plague usually develop “flu-like” symptoms after an incubation period of three to seven days.
Typical symptoms include fever, chills, head and body-aches and weakness, vomiting and nausea.