Infectious Disease Expert: Plague Can’t be Eradicated

In an article for an Australian academia blog, Monash University Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Allen Cheng has written that the plague virus cannot be eradicated and governments around the world can only react to new outbreaks and hope they can be contained to limit the loss of life.

He wrote:

It’s not possible to eradicate plague, as it is widespread in wildlife rodents outside the sphere of human influence. Outbreaks generally are managed reactively by “firefighting teams” deployed to clear houses of fleas, identify and treat cases and give pre-emptive treatment to contacts at risk.

A more preventative approach, such as the identification of areas at risk using climate models and animal surveys to focus flea and rat control efforts would be better. But this requires a better understanding of transmission pathways in each region where disease persists.

Cheng noted that the current outbreak in Madagascar, which is frequently affected by various forms of the disease, has seen very few confirmed cases from travelers who have left the African island country. And, with the World Health Organization’s help, neighboring countries in which most of those travelers arrive have greatly improved their preparedness efforts.

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