Mormon missionaries evacuated from Madagascar

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Madagascar map

Due to an outbreak of plague, Mormon missionaries serving in Madagascar are being temporarily relocated. LDS Newsroom reported the following:

Due to the emerging outbreak of plague in Madagascar, as a precautionary measure, the missionaries serving on the island of Madagascar are in the process of being transferred out of this area or temporarily reassigned to other missions. The missionaries from the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission who are serving on the islands of Mauritius and Reunion will remain. A total of 69 missionaries are being relocated or reassigned. An additional ten missionaries who are nearing the end of their mission service will return home.

Ensuring the health and safety of our missionaries is our top priority. In recent weeks measures have been taken to reduce risk to missionaries, including providing them with prescription medication to help prevent plague and asking them to remain in their apartments. There are no reports of illness among the missionaries. Families are being notified as the missionaries are temporarily reassigned. This is a very challenging situation for the missionaries, members and citizens of these countries, and we are taking every practical step to reduce risk and praying for their health and safety.

According to the Guardian, a British newspaper, 800 people in Madagascar have contracted the plague since August, and there have been 74 fatalities. The virulent pneumonic strain (known as the “black death” during the Middle Ages in Europe) began with a man who thought he had malaria, rode a public bus, and generated tens of new cases.

It is initially caused when advanced bubonic plague spreads to the lungs: this slower acting and relatively less contagious form of the disease attacks the patient’s lymphatic system. Pneumonic plague spreads very easily and is deadly if untreated.

Of the 684 cases reported as of 12 October, 474 were pneumonic plague, 156 bubonic and one septicaemic. A further 54 were unspecified.

Plague outbreaks are not uncommon in Madagascar but usually occur in the countryside. This epidemic is affecting the cities. Cases were prone to occur during the rainy season between November and March, but this epidemic began in August.

Gale Boyd is the managing editor for ThirdHour.org. She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.