Diphtheria spreads to 18 States; kills 453, infects 7,202

The Federal Government has disclosed that Nigeria has recorded 7,202 confirmed cases and 453 deaths from diphtheria since the confirmation of the current outbreak in December 2022.

A joint statement from the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday, said as of September 24, 2023, “there have been 11,587 reported suspected cases, out of which 7,202 were confirmed cases from 105 local government areas (LGAs) in (18) States, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)”.

The Government said most (6,185) of the confirmed cases were recorded in Kano. The statement said other States with cases are Yobe (640), Katsina (213), Borno (95), Kaduna (16), Jigawa (14), Bauchi (8), Lagos (8), FCT (5), Gombe (5), Osun (3), Sokoto (3), Niger (2), Cross River (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), Nasarawa (1) and Zamfara (1).

It said the majority (73.6%) of the confirmed cases occurred among children aged 1 – 14 years with those aged 5-14 years bearing most of the brunt of the disease. “So far, a total of 453 deaths have occurred in confirmed cases, giving a case fatality rate (CFR) of 6.3%”, the statement said.

Diphtheria, caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, is a vaccine-preventable disease covered by one of the vaccines provided routinely through Nigeria’s childhood immunization schedule.

The Federal Government advised parents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with the 3 doses of diphtheria antitoxin-containing pentavalent vaccine, given as part of Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.

It also advised healthcare workers to maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria and practice standard infection prevention and control precautions while handling all patients in their care.

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