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40 killed in Madagascar plague outbreak: WHO

At least 40 people have died out of 119 confirmed cases of an outbreak of the plague in Madagascar, raising fears the disease is spreading rapidly in the nation's capital, according to World health Organization (WHO).

119 people have been diagnosed with the bacterial disease since August, with 2 cases found in the densely populated capital, Antananarivo, the WHO said.

A national task force has been set up to handler the plague outbreak. The WHO said it was working with the Madagascan health authorities and Red Cross to control the disease.

The plague is a disease carried by rodents and spread by fleas. Human beings are often infected when they are bitten by fleas, causing swelling of the lymph nodes and sometimes pneumonia.

The swollen lymph nodes can be treated with antibiotics but the pneumonia might kill patients within 24 hours, according to health officials.

The first case in the outbreak was recorded on 31 August, in a man from Soamahatamana village in the district of Tsiroanomandidy. He died 3 days later on 3rd September. Authorities notified the WHO of the outbreak on 4th November.