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.
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 Red Cross 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.