1997 - Bubonic Plague in Zambia
31 January 1997
Disease Outbreak Reported
Between 13 December 1997 and 27 January 1997, 90 cases of plague with 22 deaths were reported in Namwala District in the Southern Province. Fifteen cases have been isolated. The diagnosis is at present based on clinical presentation and laboratory diagnosis is expected imminently when a medical team returns from the area. The outbreak could be linked heavy rain and flooding causing rats to invade inhabited areas. Fleas are also abundant. The first human cases presented with inguinal, axillary and cervical abscesses in December and deaths began to occur in early January. Control measures now include control of fleas and rodents and treating and isolating patients.
Comment: Plague is endemic in many countries in southern Africa where natural foci still exist, such as in neighbouring Angola, Malawi,Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe but also in Madagascar, Namibia and South Africa. The cases reported in Zambia are bubonic plague which is not an airborne infection as the pulmonary form of plague. There are no restrictions for travellers visiting Zambia or in transit in airports in the country.