The dreaded bacterial infection, which is carried by the fleas that live on rodents, was responsible for an astounding 25 million deaths in Europe during the 14th century, with periodic outbreaks through the beginning of the 20th century, and continued scattered incidents in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kyrgyzstan, India, Indonesia and Algeria. It produces painful swelling of the lymph nodes and kills up to two thirds of those afflicted—though with antibiotics the mortality rate drops below 15%.

In addition to plentiful rats and too many inmates in an unhygienic prison, Madagascar’s public health system is a shambles. “The aim is to make sure there is no let-up in the fight against the plague in prisons,” said Christoph Vogt, head of the ICRC delegation in Madagascar. He’s got his work cut out for him.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.