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Urban epidemic of bubonic plague in Majunga, Madagascar: epidemiological aspects

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After an absence of 62 years, an epidemic of plague occurred in the harbour city of Majunga (Madagascar) from July 1995 to March 1996, following sporadic cases in March and May 1995. By 15 March 1996, 617 clinically suspected cases of bubonic plague had been notified. Laboratory testing was carried out for 394 individuals: 60 (15.2%) were confirmed to have bubonic plague and 48 (12.2%) were considered as presumptive cases. The incidence was significantly higher in males in all age groups and in both sexes in the 5–19 age group. Twenty‐four deaths were related to plague, but early treatment with streptomycin has confirmed its effectiveness insofar as the case‐fatality ratio was only 8.7% among confirmed and presumptive cases admitted to hospital. The difficulty of clinically diagnosing bubonic plague was affirmed. The disease met favourable conditions through the poverty and low level of hygiene prevalent in most parts of Majunga.

Keywords: Madagascar; epidemiology; plague

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Antananarivo, Madagascar, 2: Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Majunga, Madagascar, 3: Ministère de la Santé Publique, Antananarivo, Madagascar, 4: WHO Representation, Antananarivo, Madagascar

Publication date: May 1, 1997

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