Plague Is Spreading Because Relatives Are Digging Up Their Black Death Dead and Dancing with the Corpses
Danny Collins, The Sun, October 31, 2017
Relatives dancing with the corpses of their loved ones are helping to spread the plague, officials have warned.
Madagascans have been told to stop the traditional practice of Famadihana — which sees locals dig up deceased relatives and dance with them before they are re-buried.
It is feared the ceremony has helped spread an outbreak of pneumonic plague that has left more than 120 dead on the African island.
The country’s health chief Willy Randriamarotia said: “If a person dies of pneumonic plague and is then interred in a tomb that is subsequently opened for a Famadihana, the bacteria can still be transmitted and contaminate whoever handles the body.”
The tradition has been banned since the outbreak began, but it is feared ceremonies have taken place regardless.
Some locals are openly dismissing the advice.
One said: “I have participated in as least 15 Famadihana ceremonies and I’ve never caught the plague.”
The latest warning came as British aid workers said the epidemic will get worse before it gets better.
Olivier Le Guillou of Action Against Hunger said: “The epidemic is ahead of us, we have not yet reached the peak.”
As many as 50 aid workers are believed to have been among the 1,200 people infected with the more dangerous airborne pneumonic strain of the disease.
The Sun revealed yesterday how warnings have been issued for NINE countries surrounding Madagascar amid fears the disease could spread via sea trade and flight routes.
The medieval disease notoriously wiped out one third of Europe’s population in the 13th and 14th centuries in one of the most devastating pandemics in human history known as the Black Death.
Dr Ashok Chopra, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas, told The Sun Online the crisis in Madagascar had yet to peak.
He warned it was possible for the deadly plague to move further into the region given the regular flights going in and out of the country.
Dr Chopra said: “If they are travelling shorter distances and they’re still in the incubation period, and they have the pneumonic (form) then they could spread it to other places.
“We don’t want to have a situation where the disease spreads so fast it sort of gets out of control.”