THE Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed diphtheria outbreaks in Lagos, Kano and Yobe states.
In a statement Friday morning, the Centre listed measures against a further spread of the condition.
The disease, locally known as throat disease, had killed dozens in Kano State as of Thursday evening.
Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the corynebacterium species that affects an individual’s nose, throat and sometimes, skin.
The NCDC noted that people at risk are children and adults who have not received any or a single dose of the pentavalent vaccine (a diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine) and people who live in a crowded environment.
Others are people who live in areas with poor sanitation, healthcare workers and others who are exposed to suspected/confirmed cases of the condition.
Diphtheria spreads easily between people through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.
But it can be prevented through three doses of pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine), as recommended for children in the sixth, tenth and 14th week of life by the Nigeria childhood immunisation schedule.
Signs and symptoms usually start after two – 10 days of exposure to the bacteria.
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.
To reduce the risk of diphtheria, the NCDC offers the following advice.
- Parents should ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the childhood immunisation schedule.
- Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria, that is, be vigilant and look out for symptoms of diphtheria.
- Individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify the local government area (LGA), state disease surveillance officer or the NCDC through its toll-free line (6232).
- 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 with higher exposure to cases of diphtheria should be vaccinated against the disease.