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Emerg Infect Dis. 2002 Mar;8(3):311-6.

Epidemiologic features of four successive annual outbreaks of bubonic plague in Mahajanga, Madagascar.

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Institut Pasteur, World Health Organization Collaborating Cernter for Plague, Antananarivo, Madagascar.


From 1995 to 1998, outbreaks of bubonic plague occurred annually in the coastal city of Mahajanga, Madagascar. A total of 1,702 clinically suspected cases of bubonic plague were reported, including 515 laboratory confirmed by Yersinia pestis isolation (297), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or both. Incidence was higher in males and young persons. Most buboes were inguinal, but children had a higher frequency of cervical or axillary buboes. Among laboratory-confirmed hospitalized patients, the case-fatality rate was 7.9%, although all Y. pestis isolates were sensitive to streptomycin, the recommended antibiotic. In this tropical city, plague outbreaks occur during the dry and cool season. Most cases are concentrated in the same crowded and unsanitary districts, a result of close contact among humans, rats, and shrews. Plague remains an important public health problem in Madagascar, and the potential is substantial for spread to other coastal cities and abroad.

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