In an update on the plague outbreak in Madagascar, UN officials now put the ever changing case tally in the epidemic that began on August 1 at 1,947 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of plague through Nov. 3.

Yersinia pestis bacteria, which was grown on a medium of sheep’s blood agar (SBA) Image/CDC

Of these, 1,437 (74%) were clinically classified as pulmonary plague, 295 (15%) were bubonic plague, one was septicemic, and 211 were not yet classified (further classification of cases is in process).

The death count has risen to 143.

Officials have been saying recently that the number of new cases of pulmonary plague is declining across the country. However, while the decline in the incidence is encouraging, more cases of plague are expected to be reported in Madagascar until the typical plague season ends in April 2018.

To that effect, sustaining ongoing operations during the outbreak and through the plague season is crucial to minimize the current human-to-human transmission of pneumonic plague and the bubonic plague infections. The key control measures that need to continue to the end of April 2018 include active case finding and treatment, comprehensive contact identification, follow-up and antibiotic treatment, rodent and flea control, and safe and dignified burials.