Madagascar's "unprecedented" plague outbreak is slowing, but respondents can not afford to alleviate the fight until the risk of transmission declines in the spring, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
WHO officials said cases of bubonic plague and pneumonia have steadily declined in recent weeks, although new infections are expected until the plague season ends in April.
The island off the southeastern coast of Africa recorded more than 2,300 cases of plague between August 1 and November .22, resulting in 202 deaths.
Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium "Y. pestis", which is transmitted by small mammals and their fleas. People are often infected by the bite of those fleas or by contact with infected tissues, or by inhaling infected droplets in the air.
They suffer from fever, chills, headaches, body aches, weakness, vomiting and nausea. The mortality rate is 30 to 100 percent among people who do not receive treatment, according to the WHO.
Although commonly badociated with the "Black Death" in Europe for centuries, the plague is endemic to Madagascar. The latest outbreak, however, spread rapidly and reached densely populated cities that do not normally encounter the disease.
"It is a tragedy that a disease of the Middle Ages, which can be easily treated, could threaten an entire country and kill more than 200. There are very few funds for research, prevention and pest preparation, and this year thousands of people in Madagascar have suffered as a result, "said Dr. Peter Salama, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.
So far the outbreak has been limited to Madagascar, unlike health attacks in recent years such as Ebola and Zika, which spread across many countries and lifted unprecedented prohibitions or warnings about travel abroad.
The WHO said it supports efforts to detect people leaving the country at airports.
It also trained more than 4,400 people to work as "contact tracers" to track infections and prevent the spread of plague in Madagascar.
In addition, the WHO gave $ 1.5 million in emergency funds and 1.2 million doses of antibiotics to deal with the problem.
"The worst of the outbreak is over, but we must be prepared to detect and respond to new infections until the end of the plague season in April 2018," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.