The Black death – otherwise known as the bubonic plague – once scourged Europe during the 14th century. Some 30 to 60 percent of the World’s population is thought to have been killed by the vicious disease, which may have been transferred from China by fleas clinging to black rats. The widespread nature of the disease means most people have been protected by ancient immunity, but new strains still arise sometimes in African countries. Here, little access to antibiotics and comprehensive healthcare has meant the disease is still responsible for deaths.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), several people have died from an outbreak of pneumonic plague – a strain of the ancient disease.

At least five deaths have been recorded by health officials, with dozens of people thought to have come in contact with the virus.

Health officials in Uganda have been praised for their swift response, and WHO is now working with them to tackle further developing cases.

While deaths from the plague have been reported only recently, cases of the pneumonic plague have been reported earlier this month from March 5.

Black death outbreak Plague spread congo uganda pneumonic plague symptoms

Black death OUTBREAK: Deadly plague hits Africa – several dead (Image: GETTY)

Some patients who caught the disease over the border in the DRC travelled to Uganda for treatment.

One 35-year-old woman was taken to Uganda for treatment after her own daughter was killed by the disease.

Some 55 other people – among them 11 health workers – who were present at the woman’s funeral have been identified as high-risk for the plague.

The woman’s 23-year-old cousin who also reported symptoms of the disease is now recovering in hospital.