September 27, 2023

Lara Adejoro

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said it had responded to reports of diphtheria cases in Lagos and Kano states and was monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe states where cases were being picked up.

The NCDC disclosed this in a public health advisory signed by its Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, amid the outbreak of the disease in the country.

It said in addition to clinically suspected cases, there had been laboratory-confirmed cases, noting that it was working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium called corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes, skin of an individual.

The advisory read in part, “People most 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 and healthcare workers and others who are exposed to suspected/confirmed cases of diphtheria.

“Diphtheria spreads easily between people through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects. The onset of signs and symptoms usually starts after two to 10 (days) of exposure to the bacteria.

“Symptoms of diphtheria 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.”

The agency further stated that the Nigeria childhood immunisation schedule recommended three doses of pentavalent vaccine for children in the sixth, 10th, and 14th week of life.

The NCDC also advised healthcare workers to maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria and individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria to isolate themselves and notify the local government area, state disease surveillance officer, or the NCDC.

“Close contacts with a confirmed case of diphtheria should be closely monitored given antibiotics prophylaxis and started on diphtheria antitoxin treatment when indicated. All healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, support staff, etc.) with higher exposure to cases of diphtheria should be vaccinated against diphtheria,” it added.

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