2 November 2017 - More than 1800 suspected, probable, or confirmed plague cases were reported in Madagascar from August to late October 2017, resulting in 127 deaths. WHO has moved quickly in response to this unusually severe outbreak by supporting the Government of Madagascar, while at the same time working with nearby countries and territories to prevent regional spread.
18 October 2017 - Samples from patients in Seychelles suspected to be ill with pneumonic plague tested negative at a WHO partner laboratory in Paris, France on Tuesday, 17 October 2017.
WHO is working with the Seychelles health authorities to reduce the risk of plague spreading from neighbouring Madagascar, which faces an unprecedented outbreak that has killed more than 70 people since August. No plague cases have been confirmed in the Seychelles.
How can I protect myself from being infected with plague? What should I do if I suspect I have plague? How can plague be treated?
Read this story to find out answers to these and many other frequently asked questions related to plague.
6 October 2017 – WHO has delivered nearly 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and released US$1.5 million dollars in emergency funds to fight plague in Madagascar. The outbreak has spread to the capital and port towns, infecting more than 100 people in just a few weeks. Plague can be cured using common antibiotics if delivered early. Antibiotics can also help prevent infection among people who have been exposed to plague.
Knowledge resources for plague responders
This introductory-level online course aims to equip decision-makers and frontline responders with a set of resources containing critical information on human plague. These resources, including a video lecture and a presentation, can be used as a refresher for experienced personnel or as an introduction of the topic for everyone else. Most of the materials are available in English and French, and can be downloaded for offline use.
What is plague?
One of the oldest identifiable diseases known to man, plague remains endemic in many natural foci around the world. It is still widely distributed in the tropics and subtropics and in warmer areas of temperate countries. Essentially a disease of wild rodents, plague is spread from one rodent to another by flea ectoparasites and to humans either by the bite of infected fleas or when handling infected hosts. Recent outbreaks have shown that plague may reoccur in areas that have long remained silent.
Untreated, mortality - particularly from pneumonic plague - may reach high levels. When rapidly diagnosed and promptly treated, plague may be successfully managed with antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline, reducing mortality from 30%-100% to less than 15%.