Plague cases double in Madagascar as treatment center sent

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, children wear face masks at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar. With dozens dead from a plague outbreak, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cresent Societies said Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, that it is deploying its first-ever plague treatment center to the island nation. (AP Photo/Alexander Joe, File)

JOHANNESBURG — With dozens dead from a plague outbreak in Madagascar, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Friday it is deploying its first-ever plague treatment center to the island nation.

The World Health Organization said 561 cases have been reported so far, with another in the Seychelles.

"The situation, as you know, is quite concerning. We've seen a doubling of cases over the last week," Dr. Julie Hall, the Red Cross federation's director of health and care, told reporters in Geneva.

Red Cross officials have said the situation is particularly worrying because pneumonic plague, which is spread from person to person, has occurred for the first time in non-endemic areas and crowded cities. About 70 percent of the cases are the pneumonic form.

Cases of bubonic plague, transmitted from animals to people through flea bites, occur almost annually in Madagascar.

The rise in cases is due in part to a stronger reporting system, and not all cases have been confirmed, Hall said. But she expressed concern about the geographic expansion of the outbreak and said more than 1,000 volunteers are going door-to-door in Madagascar explaining that plague can be treated if antibiotics are quickly used.

"I think all the lessons learned from Ebola mean that our response needs to be extremely fast in these types of situations, in order to bring an outbreak under control as quickly as possible," she said.

The Red Cross federation's statement said its plague treatment center will include 50 beds and a medical team with the capacity to isolate patients and will "significantly bolster" outbreak response.

Fears are growing that the outbreak will spread to other countries. Authorities in Seychelles this week said a man was diagnosed with pneumonic plague after returning from Madagascar.

The outbreak began after the death of a 31-year-old man in Madagascar's central highlands in late August.

___

Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed.

Must Read

TV executive predicts 500-show bubble destined to deflate

Aug 9, 2016

Television viewers know there's a mind-boggling array of shows to attempt to watch, but FX Networks chief executive John Landgraf predicts that change is coming

House Speaker Paul Ryan wins GOP nomination to run again

Aug 10, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan has defeated a longshot Republican primary challenger who had been praised by Donald Trump

Criticism of lavish funeral for Anne of Romania

Aug 10, 2016

The presidents of Romania and Moldova pay their last respects to Anne of Romania at a 19th-century royal castle amid some criticism about the grand royal funeral

People also read these

Turkish, Russian officials to discuss solution for Syria

Aug 10, 2016

Turkey's foreign minister says Turkish foreign ministry, military and intelligence officials will travel to Russia for discussions on finding a solution to the Syria conflict

Trump on sidelines as Clinton fills Olympics airtime

Aug 9, 2016

Clinton is taking advantage of the millions of Americans tuned in to NBC to watch U.S. athletes rack up medals during the Olympics in Rio

4 months after Japan earthquake, final victim may be found

Aug 10, 2016

Nearly four months later, the final victim of two deadly earthquakes in southern Japan may have been found

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH