Not since the Middle Ages has the bubonic plagues taken so many lives in a year. Having wiped out 25 million people in Europe, appearances of the Black Death since have been rare but the Red Cross is reporting a new outbreak has killed more than 20 people on the island of Madagascar. Living standards in the nation have collapsed since 2009 (what else happened in 2009?) and the prevalence of rats has helped spread the disease easily. While China claims to have the bird flu under control (despite some rumors out of Hong Kong), the Red Cross warns there is a risk of a Black Death epidemic.
A village in Madagascar has been hit by a deadly outbreak of the bubonic plague, medical experts on the island have confirmed.
Test were carried out after at least 20 people in the village, near the north-western town of Mandritsara, were reported to have died last week.
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned in October that Madagascar was at risk of a plague epidemic.
The disease is transmitted to humans via fleas, usually from rats.
Bubonic plague, known as the Black Death when it killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages, is now rare.
The prevalence of rats in Madagascar's prisons means the plague can spread easily.
The Pasteur Institute said there were concerns that the disease could spread to towns and cities where living standards have declined since a coup in 2009 and the ensuing political crisis.