plague outbreak India

pp000165 at pp000165 at
Sat Sep 24 18:55:56 EST 1994

According to a report in todays NY Times, an epidemic of
pneumonic plague has broken out in a town called Surat, on
the northwestern Coast of India, north of Bombay and not
far from the Arabian Sea.  The report estimates more than
300 have died from the epidemic; there are also cases of
bubonic plague with far fewer fatalities.  

The concern of health officials is that thousands of residents
are fleeing the area. Inasmuch as pneumonic plague may be
transmitted as a droplet in the exhaled air/sneezes of victims,
it is feared such a move will cause the disease to spread.

Like the outbreak of Hantavirus in our American southwest (where
plague also occurs but rarely in humans -- mostly in squirrels and
prarie dogs) the epidemic is being attributed to a preponderance
of rodents--rats in this case  which carry a flea that                    
vectors the disease. Hantavirus is vectored directly by mice.  

I am greatly interested in the cause factor and if anyone in
India reading this can provide more information it would
be deeply appreciated.  If rat populations swelled and moved
into areas of heavy human population, I would appreciate knowing
what theories are being advanced. Several were mentioned in
the reports reaching here. ,.One involved forest rats escaping
earthquake areas; another involved unattended stores of grain.


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