Nigeria has been battling a deadly outbreak of diphtheria since May 2022, with more than 790 confirmed cases as of June 30, 2023.
The outbreak is not waning, as in June 2023 alone, Nigeria reported 439 suspected cases and confirmed 160 (36.5%) from four states and Abuja, the capital.
Nigerian health authorities have reported elevated diphtheria activity in multiple states, with 5,898 confirmed cases reported since the beginning of June 2023.
Kano is the most affected state, reporting over 1,815 confirmed cases. Other states reporting high disease activity include Katsina (234 cases), Yobe (158 cases), Bauchi (79 cases), Kaduna (45 cases), and Borno (33 cases)
What is Diphtheria?
Diphtheria is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease caused mainly by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae which can be fatal in 5% to 10% of cases. It is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person, or by contact with contaminated objects or skin.
Symptoms of Diphtheria
Symptoms of diphtheria can range from mild to severe and usually appear within 2-5 days after infection. The most common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Weakness and fatigue
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Bluish skin coloration
Diagnosis of Diphtheria
Diphtheria can be diagnosed through laboratory tests, including a culture of the bacteria from the throat or nose, or a blood test to detect antibodies to the bacteria.
Treatment of Diphtheria
Treatment for diphtheria includes antibiotics to kill the bacteria and antitoxin to neutralize the toxin produced by the bacteria. Patients may also require supportive care, such as oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation, depending on the severity of their symptoms.
Prevention of Diphtheria
The best way to prevent diphtheria is through vaccination. The diphtheria vaccine is usually given as part of a combination vaccine that also protects against tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). Vaccination is recommended for all children and adults, and booster shots are recommended every 10 years.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that can be prevented through vaccination. Nigeria has been experiencing a deadly outbreak of diphtheria since May 2022, with more than 790 confirmed cases as of June 30, 2023. Early and prompt reporting of cases, timely management and treatment of cases, and adequate supply of diphtheria antitoxin are crucial in controlling the spread of the disease.
Table: Confirmed Diphtheria Cases in Nigeria by State (June 2023)
Quick Tips to Prevent Diphtheria:
- Good hygiene practices, such as washing hands regularly and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Disinfecting surfaces that may be contaminated with the bacteria
Remember: Prompt reporting, effective management, and treatment coupled with an adequate supply of diphtheria antitoxin are imperative to throttle the spread of this disease.
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