1. Situation update
Madagascar is experiencing a large outbreak of plague affecting major cities and other non-endemic areas since August 2017. Between 1 August and 15 October 2017, a total of 849 cases (suspected, probable and confirmed) including 67 deaths (case fatality rate 7.9%) have been reported from 37 (32.5%) out of 114 districts in the country. Of these, 568 cases (67%) were clinically classified as pneumonic plague, 155 (18.3%) were bubonic plague, one case was septicaemic plague, and 125 cases were unspecified. At least 39 healthcare workers have contracted plague since the beginning of the outbreak.
Of the 849 reported cases, 78 (9.2%) were confirmed, 304 (35.8%) were classified as probable after testing positive on rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and 467 (55%) remain suspected. Eleven strains of Yersinia pestis have been isolated and were sensitive to antibiotics recommended by the National Program for the Control of Plague.
Eighteen (81.2%) out of 22 regions in the country, including traditionally non-endemic areas, have been affected. The district of Antananarivo Renivohitra has been the most affected, accounting for 57.1% of the reported cases. As of 16 October 2017, a total of 3745 contacts were identified, 79.2% (2 967) of them were followed up on the day of reporting.
Plague is endemic on the Plateaux of Madagascar, including Ankazobe District where the current outbreak originated. There is a seasonal upsurge, predominantly of the bubonic form, which occurs every year, usually between September and April. The plague season began earlier this year and the current outbreak is predominantly pneumonic and is affecting non-endemic areas including major urban centres such as Antananarivo (the capital city) and Toamasina (the port city).
There are three forms of plague, depending on the route of infection: bubonic, septicaemic and pneumonic (for more information, see the link http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs267/en/).