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NCDC places health workers on high alert over diphtheria outbreak

NCDC places health workers on high alert over diphtheria outbreak

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has asked healthcare workers to maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria and look out for symptoms in the country.

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

NCDC says it has responded to reports of cases in Lagos and Kano states and is monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe States where cases are now being picked up.

In addition to clinically suspected cases, the Centre in a statement signed by Ifedayo Adetifa, its director general on Friday, said there have been laboratory-confirmed cases and it is working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and respond to the outbreak.

The NCDC also advised parents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the childhood immunisation schedule.

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“Individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify the local government area (LGA), state disease surveillance officer (DSNO) or the NCDC through our 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 diphtheria,” the statement added.

According to NCDC, people most at risk of contracting diphtheria include: 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.

The centre informed that diphtheria spreads easily between people through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, contact with contaminated clothing and objects.