While outbreaks happen from time to time, officials have confirmed there have never been so many reported pneumonic cases.
It has risen by 8 percent in just one week and “scientists are frantically working to make sure the airborne infection doesn’t spread to mainland Africa,” the British daily, The Daily Star reported.
Some 143 people have died and 2 000 have been infected since the outbreak in early August when the disease spread to nine surrounding African countries.
Locals have blamed the outbreak on villagers in Madagaskar digging up their ancestors for a ritual known as Famadihana.
The countries affected include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion.
Malawi’s health secretary confirmed that the country was ready for any outbreaks amid concerns over the African nation’s “porous borders”.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dan Namarika, assured the media that “cross border teams interface with our Mozambique counterparts”. Mozambique lies between Malawi and Madagascar and Mozambique would likely report plague cases before they reach Malawi.
Namarika said his country would be ready in case of an outbreak. “We have infection prevention materials ready and groups and teams ready to be activated if there is a trigger.” The last time such plague cases in Malawi were reported, was in 2002.
World Health Organisation figures show the Black Death outbreak has now infected 1 947 people in the country off the east coast of Africa.
Pneumonic plague kills in as little as 24 hours. Health expert Professor Jimmy Whitworth says the current outbreak is the “worst in 50 years or more”.
WHO experts say they “cannot rule out” the possibility of spikes in cases lasting until April 2018.
The last significant outbreak occurred nearly a century ago in the United States, in Los Angeles, when a two-week epidemic killed 30 people.
There are three types of plague – bubonic affecting the lymph nodes, septicaemia which causes bleeding under the skin, and pneumonic which affects respiration.
According to the WHO, the pneumonic plague as “the deadliest and most rapid form of plague”. The plague is confirmed to have left the island after several players in an international basketball competition showed symptoms after arriving home.