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Doctors in Malawi have been beaten for carrying stethoscopes by vigilante mobs who believe they are vampires using the instruments to suck blood.Medics have also been robbed and had their vehicles smashed, while ambulances have been attacked as patients were taken to hospital, a doctors' association said.Forest fires drive rats towards rural communities, which means residents are at risk of being bitten and infected.Local media reports suggest there has been an increase in the number of blazes in the woodlands.'This is despicable and we condemn all these and all similar acts of barbarism on innocent people unreservedly and in the strongest language possible.'No health worker can suck blood with a stethoscope.'Dr Nyaka added that there is 'no evidence' the vampires are real, and instead blamed the situation on 'Shared Delusion Disorder'.He said: 'This is when a dominant individual who is deluded and can have those following him believe and internalize his delusions.If left untreated, it can lead to the pneumonic form, which is responsible for two thirds of the cases recorded so far in this year's outbreak.Rats carry the Yersinia pestis bacteria that causes the plague, which is then passed onto their fleas.
The strain can be cured with antibiotics and the WHO money will go towards paying for extra medical personnel, the disinfection of buildings and fuel for ambulances.
Without antibiotics, the bubonic strain can spread to the lungs - where it becomes the more virulent pneumonic form.
Pneumonic, which can kill within 24 hours, can then be passed on through coughing, sneezing or spitting.
Shared delusion is usually confined to a locality.'In view of the magnitude of the problem in that it is affecting many districts and the readiness of many Malawians to internalize these beliefs this presentation would constitute that of Mass Hysteria.'It is the considered view of the Society that such blood suckers do not exist.
This is purely Mass Hysteria.'The attacks started in mid-September but alarm has grown in recent weeks as they spread to Blantyre, the second-largest city in the country.
Health officials are unsure how this year's outbreak began.