• Friday, April 12, 2024
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Diphtheria: NCDC tells health workers to report cases within 24 hours

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued an urgent warning for all healthcare workers to report all suspected cases of diphtheria to their respective Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNO) within 24 hours.

The NCDC said diphtheria was one of the priority diseases in Nigeria requiring immediate reporting.

Ifedayo Adetifa, the director-general of the centre, said: “It is essential that you report all notifiable diseases to public health authorities in the state your institution is based in and specifically to the LGA DSNOs for the location of your facility. This is necessary for follow-up action at State and National level”.

Diphtheria is an infectious disease that manifests as sore throat and fever and spreads quickly through cough and sneezing, NCDC says.

In severe cases, the bacteria produce a poison (toxin) that causes a thick grey or white patch at the back of the throat.

This can block the airway making it hard to breathe or swallow and also create a barking cough. The neck may swell in part due to enlarged lymph nodes.

The poison may also get into the bloodstream causing complications that may include inflammation and damage of the heart muscle, inflammation of nerves, kidney problems, and bleeding problems due to low blood platelets.

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The infection is treated with the administration of a diphtheria antitoxin, administered through injection. Antibiotics are also given to eliminate bacteria and toxin production and to prevent transmission to others.

The WHO prescribes that immunisation programmes should ensure that three booster doses of diphtheria vaccines are provided during childhood and adolescence as recent outbreaks in several countries show inadequate vaccination coverage.

A hexavalent vaccine that would require fewer vaccination sessions, allowing more children to receive all the recommended doses for protection against diseases such as diphtheria is also being developed.

UNICEF expects WHO prequalification of the first whole-cell pertussis hexavalent vaccine during the third quarter of 2023.

Data from the WHO show that 557 confirmed cases of diphtheria have been detected in Nigeria as of April 2023, affecting 21 of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

In December 2022, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) was notified of suspected diphtheria outbreaks in Kano and Lagos States.

From 14 May 2022 to 9 April 2023, 1439 suspected cases were reported, with 557 (39 percent) confirmed, including 73 deaths among the confirmed cases.

Nigeria had previously reported diphtheria outbreaks, with the most significant reported in 2011 affecting the rural areas of Borno State, in the country’s northeast.