A health promoter educating a group of male patients and care givers at the Murtala Mohamed specialised hospital on the symptoms of Diphtheria so they can share the knowledge once they go back to their communities.
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Outbreak of Diphtheria hits 18 states as FG confirms 7,202 cases, 453 deaths

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The Federal Government has confirmed 7,202 cases of diphtheria out of the 11,587 suspected cases across 105 local government areas in 18 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare disclosed this on Monday in a joint press statement signed by the ministry, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and other development partners.

The government said Kano has the highest figure of 6,185 confirmed cases and prevalence.

Other states with cases are Yobe (640), Katsina (213), Borno (95), Kaduna (16), Jigawa (14), Bauchi (eight), Lagos (eight), FCT (five), Gombe (five), Osun (three), Sokoto (three), Niger (two), Cross River (one), Enugu (one), IMO (one), Nasarawa (one) and Zamfara (one).

Persecondnews gathered that 5,299 of the confirmed cases occurred among children of ages one to 14 years with those from five to 14 years bearing the brunt of the disease.

So far, a total of 453 deaths have occurred in confirmed cases, giving a case fatality rate of 6.3 per cent, the statement added.

The government, however, said it has been coordinating surveillance and response activities across the country since the outbreak of the disease in December 2022.

“Given the escalation of the outbreak and findings that 80 per cent of confirmed cases in the ongoing outbreak are unvaccinated, the Honourable Coordinating Minister of the FMOH&SW, Prof Ali Pate, set up a national emergency task team co-chaired by the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, the Director General of the NCDC for higher level coordination of outbreak response efforts.

“This includes ensuring optimal collaboration of all relevant health stakeholders in this fight.

“Other prominent members of the task force include the director of Public Health-FMOH, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, USCDC, USAID, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, other non-governmental organisations and development partners.

“For the first time for any diphtheria outbreak, the FMOH&SW through NCDC and with WHO support, procured diphtheria antitoxin and more recently intravenous erythromycin and distributed them to the affected states.

“With support from partners and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health, Diphtheria Treatment Centres/Wards have been established in affected states.

“Intensified routine diphtheria immunisation and reactivated vaccination campaigns in 33 LGAs in Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, Kano, and Kaduna by the NPHCDA. Mobilised procurement of vaccines and essential logistics for three large-scale outbreak response campaigns in 56 LGAs across seven priority states – Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Yobe,” it said.

To reduce the risk of diphtheria, the government advised parents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with the three doses of diphtheria antitoxin-containing pentavalent vaccine, given as part of Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.

“Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria and practice standard infection prevention and control precautions while handling all patients in their care.

“All healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, support staff etc.) with a high level of exposure to cases of diphtheria should be vaccinated against diphtheria.

“Individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should promptly present to a health care facility or designated diphtheria treatment centres and where possible they and/or healthcare workers should notify their LGA, State Disease Surveillance Officer, their State Ministry of Health helpline, or the NCDC through our toll-free line on 6232,” the federal government 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 immunisation schedule.

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