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The deadly plague outbreak in Madagascar is rapidly spiralling out of control as 171 people have now lost their lives, official figures reveal.
World Health Organization data also shows the 'medieval disease' has infected 2,119 in the country off the coast of Africa - a four per cent jump in a handful of days.
'crisis - Countries - Alert - WHO - Preparations
The 'crisis' has prompted ten African countries to be placed on high alert, with the WHO ordering nine to step up preparations.
Experts fear the plague, which strikes Madagascar every year, will inevitably become resistant to antibiotics and mutate and become untreatable.
Others - US - Europe - Britain - Millions
Others worry it will eventually hit the US, Europe and Britain, leaving millions more vulnerable due to how quick it can spread through populations.
And with the plague season expected to run until April, scientists believe there will be another spike of cases in the coming months.
Scores - Doctors - Nurses - Disease - Fears
Scores of doctors and nurses have already been struck down with the disease, and there are growing fears hospitals will be unable to cope if it continues its rampage.
But local officials are adamant the 'worst outbreak in 50 years' is slowing down as the number of new cases is on the decline.
Thirds - Cases - Plague - Coughing - Hours
Two thirds of cases have been caused by the airborne pneumonic plague, which can be spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting and kill within 24 hours.
It is strikingly different to the bubonic form, responsible for the 'Black Death' in the 14th century, which strikes the country each year and infects around 600 people.
Malawi - List - Nations - Outbreak - Weekend
Malawi was added to the growing list of nations placed urged to brace for a potential outbreak over the weekend, becoming the tenth.
South Africa, Seychelles, La Reunion, Tanzania, Mauritius, Comoros, Mozambique, Kenya and Ethiopia have already been told to prepare.
Paul - Hunter - Professor - Health - Protection
Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the world-renowned University of East Anglia, was the first expert...
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