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Red Cross officials work in Antananarivo, Madagascar, where the plague has struck
A medical expert has warned that the plague, which has already killed 140 people in Madagascar, could mutate and become untreatable.

Professor Paul Hunter also warned it was possible for the disease to reach Europe and North America like the Ebola virus did in 2014 following an outbreak in West Africa.

Hunter, who lectures in health protection at the University of East Anglia, said: "As with any disease, it's a real worry that it mutates and become untreatable."

He told the Daily Star: "If it reaches the UK, Europe or the US it would be similar to the Ebola outbreak.

"We would probably have a few isolated cases but it shouldn't spread like it has in Madagascar."

The island, located off the southeastern coast of Africa, has seen 143 of its citizens from over 2,000 people infected.

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Madagascans have been told to stop the traditional practice of Famadihana - where locals dig up deceased relatives and dance with them before they are re-buried
Madagascans have been told to stop the traditional practice of Famadihana - where locals dig up deceased relatives and dance with them before they are re-buried

Two thirds of the cases have been reported as pneumonic which is the most lethal strain.

Dr Charlotte Ndiaye, who works for the World Health Organisation in Madagascar, said: "WHO is concerned that plague could spread further because it is already present in several cities and this is the start of the epidemic season, which usually runs from September to April."

The disease can be spread by coughing, sneezing, spitting and through contact with other fluids.

It is related to the Black Death which killed around 200 million people in Europe and Asia between 1346 and 1353.