The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has announced an outbreak of diphtheria in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) following the first case and death of a four-year-old child in June.
In a statement Thursday, NCDC said there have been multiple outbreaks across the country since December 2022, with 798 confirmed diphtheria cases from 33 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in eight states, including FCT.
NCDC added that 80 deaths have been recorded among all confirmed cases, with a case fatality rate of 10.0 per cent.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that can cause breathing difficulties and heart problems that can be fatal, particularly in children.
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Prevalent among children
According to the NCDC, Kano state accounted for most of the confirmed cases, while other states are Lagos, Yobe, Katsina, Cross River, Kaduna, and Osun.
NCDC added that the majority (71.7 per cent) of the 798 confirmed cases occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years.
Despite diphtheria being a vaccine-preventable disease, NCDC noted that 654 (82 per cent) of 798 confirmed cases of the ongoing outbreaks were unvaccinated.
The disease control centre advised parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated against the disease with three doses of antitoxin-containing pentavalent vaccine given as part of Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.
It also urged healthcare workers to maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria.
In response to the outbreak in December 2022, NCDC said it activated a multi-sectoral national Diphtheria Technical Working Group as a mechanism for coordinating surveillance and response activities across the country.
“The response activities include coordination, surveillance, laboratory investigation, risk communication, case management and immunisation activities,” it noted.
NCDC said it deployed Rapid Response Teams (RRT) to some of the affected states: (Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Osun and Yobe) to support response activities in the states.
It added that it facilitated the development and dissemination of surveillance tools across the country to support active case finding across affected states.
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