Scientists have warned that a strain of plague which has already killed more than 140 in Madagascar and spreading fast through Africa could mutate and become untreatable.

Ten African countries have already been put on alert for signs of the killer disease, after it mutated and became airborne. The disease is being associated with the Black Death pandemic of the 1300s, which wiped out a quarter of the world’s population.

Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia, told the UK newspaper Daily Star: ‘If it reaches the UK, Europe or the US it would be similar to the Ebola outbreak.

“As with any disease, it’s a real worry that it mutates and become untreatable,” he said.

“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 plague has long been seen in Madagascar’s village areas – but this new outbreak is largely concentrated in its two largest cities, Toamasina and Antananarivo.

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 World Health Organisation has also released $1.5 million and sent plague specialists and epidemiologists to help with and contain the killer disease.

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