Samia haque: 28 November, 2017: Madagascar’s uncommon outbreak of pneumonic plague is slowing down but the response must be sustained, WHO urged yesterday.
Pneumonic plague is a severe lung infection caused by the bacterium Yersinia Pestis. Symptoms include fever, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. They typically start about three to seven days after exposure. It is one of three forms of plague, the other two being septicemic plague and bubonic plague.
An outbreak of plague in Madagascar began in August 2017 and expanded rapidly, with about two-thirds of cases transmitted person-to-person as pneumonic plague, Of the 1 828 clinical pneumonic cases, 347 (21%) have been confirmed, 614 (34%) are probable and 824 (45%) remain suspected (additional laboratory results are in process). Thirty-three isolates of Yersinia pestis have been cultured and are sensitive to all antibiotics recommended by the National Plague Control Program. Till now 195 people had died from it.
According to data published by the Madagascar Ministry of Health, the number of new infections has been in steady decline in recent weeks. This indicates that measures taken to contain the outbreak have been effective, but more infections of both bubonic and pneumonic plague are expected until the end of the plague season in April 2018.
“I congratulate the Government of Madagascar for the way it has worked with partners to contain this outbreak. This is just the type of leadership needed to prevent outbreaks spiraling out of control,” Dr. Tedros added.
WHO and partners are supporting the Government of Madagascar to coordinate the response, provide clinical guidance, identify and treat patients and their contacts, and strengthen exit screening at airports and ports to reduce the risk of international spread.