Healthcare workers in the country have been directed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) to maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria following the outbreak of the disease in the country.
Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat and sometimes, skin of an individual. Its symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes (conjunctivitis) , and neck swelling.
In severe cases, a thick grey or white patch appears on the tonsils and/or at the back of the throat associated with difficulty breathing.
Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said on Thursday night that they’ve responded to reports of diphtheria cases in Lagos and Kano states.
Adetifa also said they are monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe states where cases are now being picked up.
Kano State Ministry of Health has already revealed that the diphtheria outbreak has so far killed 25 people with 58 suspected cases and six persons on admission.
According to NCDC, diphtheria spreads easily between people through; direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.
People who are at risk of contracting diphtheria are:
• Children and adults who have not received any or a single dose of the pentavalent vaccine (a diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine).
• People who live in a crowded environment.
• People who live in areas with poor sanitation.
• Healthcare workers and others who are exposed to suspected/confirmed cases of diphtheria.
Parents have been asked to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the childhood immunisation schedule.