Friday, July 12, 2024

Nigeria confirms 80 deaths from diphtheria outbreak

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Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey is an experienced African journalist who has worked with top media brands in Ghana where he is based.

Health authorities in Nigeria have confirmed an outbreak of diphtheria following the death of a four-year-old in the capital, Abuja.

Nigeria has recorded almost 800 confirmed cases of diphtheria since last year, officials have said with at least 80 deaths.

The highly contagious infection can cause breathing difficulties and heart problems and particularly fatal.

Diphtheria, a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease spreads between people mainly by direct contact or through the air via respiratory droplets.

The disease can affect all age groups, however unimmunized children are particular at risk.

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) in a statement said there are vast majority of cases among people who had not been vaccinated.

“As of June 30th, 2023, there have been 798 confirmed diphtheria cases from 33 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in eight (8) States including the FCT. Most of the cases (782) were recorded in Kano.

Other States with cases are Lagos, Yobe, Katsina, Cross River, Kaduna, and Osun. The majority (71.7 per cent) of the 798 confirmed cases occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years. So far, a total of 80 deaths have been recorded among all confirmed cases (case fatality rate of 10.0 per cent)”, the statement said.

Public vigilance

The NCDC has now urged the public to remain vigilant and ensure that people with symptoms to report early to health facilities for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

“Just like in other States reporting cases, we are working with the FCT Health and Human Services Department to implement control measures and avert the further spread of the disease,” the statement added.

According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria had recorded diphtheria outbreaks in the past.

The most significant outbreak reported was between February and November 2011 in the rural areas of Borno State, north-eastern Nigeria, where 98 cases were reported.

Diphtheria is caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

“The disease can be treated by administering diphtheria antitoxin as well as antibiotics. Vaccination against diphtheria has reduced the mortality and morbidity of diphtheria dramatically,” the WHO said in an alert this year.


Vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks on the rise in Africa


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