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Health

1 Million Antibiotics Are Being Shipped to Madagascar to Fight the Plague

Face masks are placed on children in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed at least two dozen people, and the government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city.
(AP Photo/Alexander JOE)

The world is increasing its urgent response to an especially dangerous outbreak of the plague.

The World Health Organization sent more than 1 million doses of antibiotics to Madagascar this month as part of an emergency response to the outbreak of the pneumonic plague in the country.

More than 200 people have been diagnosed and 33 have died in the past two months from the disease, according to the WHO.

While plague is endemic to Madagascar, the most common form of the disease is bubonic plague, which is less deadly that pneumonic and typically spreads from rodent contact, according to the BBC. Madagascar typically sees about 400 cases per year.

Read More: The Plague — Yes, That Plague — Has Killed 22 People in Madagascar

Pneumonic plague is the deadliest form of the disease, which affects the lungs and can be spread merely by coughing. Infection can lead to death within 24 hours, according to the BBC.

Urban areas in Madagascar have been most affected, which health officials said was worrying as it could mean the disease could spread around the country more quickly.

Plague is typically only found in impoverished places with poor sanitary conditions and health infrastructure, according to WHO. It is curable if treated early. Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, which call for universal access to quality health coverage. You can take action on this issue here .

"Plague is curable if detected in time," WHO Madagascar Representative Charlotte Ndiaye said in a statement. “Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save.”

Read More: This Deadly Epidemic Kills Nearly 100 Americans Every Day

The WHO is distributing medicine to prevent and treat the disease to health clinics around the country, it said.

Madagascar officials have closed schools, banned public gatherings in certain cities, cancelled sports events, and suspended prison visits to try and curb the spread of the disease.

And officials are warning visitors to stay away from Madagascar until the disease is brought under control. According to the BBC, the Ministry of Health in Seychelles is urging airlines and travel agencies to discourage visitors and has added screening measures at airports.

The WHO said it would make $1.5 million of emergency funding available to help fight the disease.