Taxi-brousses, or 'bush taxis', are the common form of public transportation in Madagascar. Photo Alizé Carrère

This story received considerable press once it was published on the National Geographic homepage (Dec. 17th, 2013), so I'll say a few words about the experience after the facts.

Despite its ghastly reputation (and understandably so, for it killed off 1/3 of Europe's population during the Middle Ages), the bubonic plague today isn't as deadly as it once used to be - thanks to the arrival of penicillin and other modern antibiotics. Although the bubonic plague now only exists in very few and isolated pockets of the world, Madagascar is the country in which the highest number of annual plague-related deaths are reported each year. The hot spots tend to be in remote villages and prisons. 

So, when I found out that the village I was going to last week in northern Madagascar was experiencing a deadly plague outbreak, I still opted to push through with it. By taking a prophylactic dose of doxycycline, I was confident that I wouldn't be wiped out by the disease even if I did come in contact with it. This story is the journey behind that whole process, which at the end of the day can be boiled down to one thing...never underestimate the length a NatGeo Explorer will go for a photograph! 

The original story here (for National Geographic's Explorers Journal):