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Health News of Monday, 25 September 2023


Diphtheria kills 453, infects 7,202, spreads to 18 states

Diphtheria Diphtheria

The federal government says 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) on Monday, 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 federal government said most (6,185) of the confirmed cases were recorded in Kano.

It 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%,” it said.

The statement said the Coordinating Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare , Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, set up a national emergency task team co-chaired by the Executive Director of the NPHCDA and the Director General of the NCDC for higher level coordination of outbreak response efforts following findings that 80% of confirmed cases in the ongoing outbreak are unvaccinated.

Other prominent members of the task force include Director of Public Health-FMOH, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), USCDC, USAID, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, other non-governmental organizations and development partners.

“Since the confirmation of an outbreak, the FMOH&SW through her agencies has been coordinating surveillance and response activities across the country. These include response coordination, surveillance, laboratory investigation, vaccination, case management, and risk communication activities,” 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.

“The most effective protection against diphtheria is vaccination with the Pentavalent or TD vaccine. The Federal Government of Nigeria provides free, safe, and effective vaccines at all Primary Healthcare Centres nationwide. We invite the public to take advantage of the ongoing vaccination occurring in all states,” it stated