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WHO releases $1.5M in emergency funds to fight plague in Madagascar

An outbreak of plague in Madagascar has killed 33 people, prompting the World Health Organization to send 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and release $1.5 million in emergency funds to fight the epidemic in the country.

The United Nations agency has appealed for a further $5.5 million to help fight the infection outbreak. Most of the 231 infections and 33 deaths that the Madagascar Ministry of Health has reported since August are associated with pneumonic plague — a more dangerous form of the disease that affects the lungs and is transmitted through coughing at close range.

The disease is curable with common antibiotics if detected at an early stage.

"WHO is concerned that plague could spread further because it is already present in several cities and this is the start of the epidemic season, which usually runs from September to April," Charlotte Ndiaye, an agency representative in Madagascar, said in a statement.