The World Health Organization says it has sent nearly 1.2 million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar in the fight against plague.
The medicines were delivered last week, with the expectation that another 244,000 doses will be added in coming days as health officials battle the ongoing seasonal outbreak on the island nation.
Some 231 infections and 33 deaths have been reported by Madagascar’s Ministry of Health since August, WHO says, as the numbers continue to climb. The government has banned public gatherings and closed schools in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease.
Most of the cases are associated with pneumonic plague, a more dangerous form of the disease that affects the lungs and is transmitted from person to person through coughing. It is usually transmitted by rodents and fleas.
Yet both bubonic and pneumonic plague can be cured using common antibiotics if delivered early, WHO said. Antibiotics can also help prevent infection among people who have been exposed to plague.
“Plague is curable if detected in time. Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save,” said Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO Representative in Madagascar, in a statement.
WHO also released USD$1.5 Million from its emergency funds to support the effort. The organization is working with the Ministry of Health to train local medical professionals on how to identify and care for patients, and how to trace people who’ve had contact with them so they can receive protective care.