Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the outbreak of diphtheria cases in Lagos and Kano States, and is also monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe States where cases are being picked up.
NCDC explained that diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat and sometimes, skin of an individual.
It also confirmed that 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, healthcare workers and others who are exposed to suspected/confirmed cases of diphtheria, are most at risk of contracting the disease.
Similarly, it disclosed that diphtheria spreads easily between people through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, contact with contaminated clothing and objects, among others, and the symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes (conjunctivitis), neck swelling, and 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.
NCDC Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, in a statement on Friday, noted that, in addition to the clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases and the NCDC is working with State Ministries of Health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
Regarding possible prevention, NCDC said that the childhood immunisation schedule recommended three doses of pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine) for children in the 6th, 10th, and 14th week of life. He urged mothers to present their babies for the immunization at the right dates.