view counter

PlaguePlague total grows in Madagascar: WHO

Published 18 October 2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update on Madagascar’s plague outbreak that the number of infections as of Saturday has climbed to 684, an increase of 297 cases since its last update on 9 October. Also, health officials in Seychelles are closely monitoring eleven people in hospital isolation, a step that follows the announcement late last week of a probable imported case in a man who had traveled to Madagascar.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update on Madagascar’s plague outbreak that the number of infections as of Saturday has climbed to 684, an increase of 297 cases since its last update on 9 October.

Also, health officials in Seychelles are closely monitoring eleven people in hospital isolation, a step that follows the announcement late last week of a probable imported case in a man who had traveled to Madagascar.

Of Madagascar’s new cases, 197 are pneumonic, putting that total at 474. Twelve more deaths have been reported, lifting that number to 57. The WHO said the latest totals reflect an overall reduction in the case-fatality rate, which over the past few days has dropped from 11.6 percent to 8.3 percent.

Outbreak nears 700 cases
Illnesses have now been reported in 35 of Madagascar’s 114 districts, 8 more since the previous update, the WHO said. The hardest-hit area is Antananarivo Renivohitra District, a large urban area surrounding the country’s capital.

CIDRAP says that of the 684 cases, 63 are confirmed, 271 are probable, and 350 are suspected. In addition to the 474 pneumonic cases, 156 are bubonic, 1 is septicemic, and 54 are unspecified.

So far, eleven Yersinia pestis strains have been isolated, and tests show that all are sensitive to antibiotics recommended for treatment.

The WHO has said that the overall threat of disease spread within Madagascar is high, while the regional risk is moderate and the overall global risk is low.

Madagascar and its global health partners have scaled up surveillance and contact tracing, and the Pasteur Institute has sent 1,918 rapid diagnostic tests to outbreak hot spots and to the health ministry.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced today that it is deploying its first-ever plague treatment center in Madagascar. It said the 50-bed facility will include a full medical team, using national health staff to isolate and treat patients sick with plague. It is also releasing about $1 million from its disaster relief emergency fund to scale up the local Red Cross medical treatment capacity.

Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, MD, IFRC regional director for Africa, said in a statement, “Our past experience in outbreak response had underlined the importance of responding quickly and effectively.”

Medicine du Monde is setting up five isolation and treatment centers, and Doctors without Borders has deployed seventy people to help support the response in Toamasina, another hot spot that is also Madagascar’s main seaport. The WHO has delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) and antibiotics, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated PPE and vehicles to help the country’s health officials.