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Pneumonic Plague in Madagascar

29 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 08 January 2014

At least 40 people have died from recent plague outbreaks in Madagascar - including 30 in just one week - in early September. Most cases are thought to have been pneumonic or pulmonary plague, which is much more serious than bubonic plague because it spreads rapidly from person to person and can kill within two or three days. Latest reports suggest that the epidemic is now under control, but there are fears that future outbreaks will occur. Professor Christophe Roger is director of the Pasteur Institute in Madagascar.

Mosquito Nets in Hernia Operations
One in four men worldwide will suffer a hernia during their lifetime. Hernias begin as a small lump, often in the groin, but can grow to be as large as a basketball. They occur when part of the gut gets pushed out through a tear in the muscle wall and if left untreated can cause immense pain. Hernia's account for 50,000 deaths globally each year. The surgery needed to fix a hernia is not complicated but it requires both a trained surgeon and a piece of surgical mesh, which is often expensive. But now a new, cheaper alternative to the mesh could offer hope to millions of patients in poorer countries, as the BBC’s Lorna Stewart discovered.

Milgram’s Obedience Experiment
The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was an experiment conducted in 1961 by psychologist Stanley Milgram. It measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to administer electric shocks and perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Five years ago, wondering what it must have been like for the people who took part in his famous study, psychologist Gina Perry set about tracking down some of the participants and going through Milgram’s extensive archive. The experiments have always been controversial because of the ethics, but what she found was that even his scientific method and his conclusions were deeply flawed.

(Picture: Roof Rat (Rattus Rattus), a reservoir host of bubonic plague)


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