The World Health Organization sought to assure a worried world Thursday that the plague in India is not likely to spread abroad and said the outbreak is expected to be over within three weeks.
About 1,500 suspected victims were in quarantine wards as India’s death toll from pneumonic plague reached 48. All except one of the fatalities occurred near the epicenter of the outbreak in the western state of Gujarat since the first death was reported Sept. 20.
“Purely by common sense, given the number of people and the gestation period of the germs and the health measures, it should all be over in two to three weeks,” said Jitendra Tuli, the WHO spokesman in Delhi.
All schools and movie theaters in the New Delhi area were closed to check the spread of the disease.
Pneumonic plague is highly contagious and spreads between humans through contaminated sputum or breath.
In Atlanta, U.S. officials issued a plague advisory Thursday to all Americans bound for India, warning them to avoid stricken areas.
Federal health officials say travelers generally are at a low risk for plague infection. But the Centers for Disease Control still recommends that people avoid areas known to be rat-infested and apply insect repellent to ankles, legs, clothing and outer bedding.