Official figures reveal 165 people have now died from the killer plague spreading rapidly in Madagascar.
It has been labelled the ‘worst outbreak in 50 years’ with experts warning the disease could mutate and become untreatable.
Some fear it could even spread as far as Europe and the UK via plane travellers.
Ten African countries have already been put on alert for signs of the disease – which is caused by the same microbe that wiped out 50 million people in Europe during the Black Death.
Most of the cases in the current outbreak are pneumonic plague, a more virulent airborne form that spreads through coughing, sneezing or spitting and is almost always fatal if untreated.
The latest figures show there was a 15 percent jump in fatalities over three days, with scientists concerned it has reached crisis point.
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia, told the Daily Star: ‘If it reaches the UK, Europe or the US it would be similar to the Ebola outbreak.
‘We would have a few isolated cases but it shouldn’t spread like it has in Madagascar.
‘As with any disease, it’s a real worry that it mutates and become untreatable.’
Malawi became the tenth country to be put on high alert over the weekend, joining South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, La Réunion, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Comoros.
‘The big anxiety is it could spread to mainland Africa, it’s not probable, but certainly possible, that might then be difficult to control,’ Professor Hunter told MailOnline.
‘If we don’t carry on doing stuff here, at one point something will happen and it will get out of our control and cause huge devastation all around the world.’
The disease has long been seen in Madagascar’s remote areas – but this new outbreak is largely concentrated in its two largest cities, Antananarivo and Toamasina.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), criticised for its slow response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, has released $1.5 million and sent plague specialists and epidemiologists to the country.
The Red Cross is also sending its first-ever plague treatment centre to Madagascar.
More than a million doses of antibiotics have been delivered by the WHO to fight the diseas, with figures suggesting more than 2,000 people have been infected since the outbreak first hit in August this year.
There are normally about 400 cases of plague every year in the country.
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