UN says plague cases in Madagascar almost doubled in 5 days

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. says the number of plague cases in Madagascar has almost doubled over the last five days and medical experts project the situation will worsen, with 1,000 cases expected every month if funds aren't rapidly provided.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Thursday that only 26 percent of the $9.5 million needed to combat the outbreak of the often deadly disease has been received.

Dujarric says U.N. humanitarian officials in the Indian Ocean island nation reported 1,032 cases as of Wednesday, 67 percent of which were pneumonic plague. He says that "is more serious than the bubonic plague and highly challenging to control."

So far, he says, 89 deaths have been counted, including 13 on Tuesday.

Dujarric says U.N. officials have strengthened systems to identify contacts of victims.