Two days ago the ECDC: Rapid Risk Assessment - Pneumonic Plague In Madagascar warned that while the global risk was low, there was a moderate risk of seeing the regional spread of exported plague cases in the Indian Ocean region.
The Seychelles islands - which sit about 1,000 miles north and slightly east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean - is one of those regions at risk.
While the Seychelles MOH government Internet portal appears static (last update listed as 2015), their MOH Facebook page is active, and yesterday announced:
Man tests positive for plague following presentation of symptoms
In interview today, Tuesday 10th October 2017, Dr Jude Gedeon, Public Health Commissioner confirmed that a 34 year old man has been infected with the plague. The man who travelled to Madagascar, arrived in Seychelles on Friday 6th October 2017, at which point he was placed under passive surveillance.
“He presented with symptoms yesterday. He was not feeling well and reported to a health centre. Because he was under surveillance, he was immediately put in isolation at the Seychelles Hospital,” Dr Gedeon said. Several tests were done, some of which had normal results. “We also conducted a rapid plague test which produced a weakly positive result,” Dr Gedeon added. Following this, the result was sent to L’institut Pasteur in France for cross-checking, at which point it was confirmed to be a positive plague result.
The man has been immediately given antibiotic treatment and all person who came into direct contact with him has also been put under active surveillance. These include his partner who also presented with symptoms today but has not been confirmed to be infected and a child who resides with the two.
Dr Gedeon has reassured that there is no reason to panic and that the Public Health Authority is continuing to enforce measures to prevent an outbreak within the country. “We continue to monitor passengers who enter the country from Madagascar. There are currently 42 people who are under passive surveillance,” he stated.
Moreover, 15 people who have been identified to have come into contact with the man have also been put on antibiotic treatment to prevent infection.
“Plague can easily be treated with antibiotics when detected early. And, our objective is to have early diagnosis, and identification of points of contact so we can administer treatment early,” Dr Gedeon further added with regards to strategies being implemented by the Ministry of Health.
At the moment, Air Seychelles has cancelled all flights to and from Madagascar as a further preventative measure. All members of the basketball delegation was who put under active surveillance at a centre is Perseverance have also been discharged following no presentation of symptoms.
A few hours later, the following notice appeared on their Facebook page.
New Isolation Unit Setup As Additional Measure To Deal With Plague
Dr Danny Louange, CEO of Health Care Agency, has confirmed that a new isolation unit is being setup at the Seychelles Hospital. He said this during an interview with the media today, Tuesday 10th October 2017.
The new unit will be temporarily located on the second floor of the Seychelles Hospital on Hermitte Ward. The Hermitte Ward is being moved to the antenatal ward. Thus, the two maternity wards will be merged until further notice.
This a measure being taken by the Ministry of Health in the event that more cases of plague are diagnosed. “We need to provide a facility for patients who will be put under isolation and the best place to properly do this is Hermitte Ward,” Dr Louange explained.
“The unit requires two separate sections and Hermitte ward already allows for this this to be done. In addition it has two different doorways.” This will permit staff to have different entrances based on their stations.
It is important that people with symptoms of plague are put in the correct environment. They need to be in a facility where they can get the right care and treatment.
Dr Louange reassures the public that the Health Care Agency has enough resources to treat patients in case of more plague diagnosis.
Meanwhile the Seychelles Health Education Facebook page has posted the following infographic on Plague.