The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has asked healthcare workers to be vigilant and look out for symptoms of diphtheria by maintaining a high index of suspicion.
In a public advisory released Thursday, Dr. Ifidayo Aditiva, Director General of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the center had responded to reports of diphtheria cases in Lagos and Kano states.
According to him, in Osun and Yobe states, the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention is also monitoring the situation as cases are now being picked up.
The diphtheria outbreak has so far killed 25 people, with 58 suspected cases and six people admitted according to data revealed by the Kano state health ministry.
The director general of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention explained that the disease affects the nose, throat and sometimes the skin of the individual, saying that diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by bacteria called Corynebacterium species.
Symptoms of diphtheria, he said, include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and neck swelling.
“A thick gray or white spot appears on the tonsils and/or at the back of the throat, accompanied by difficulty breathing, in severe cases,” he said.
He said the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention is working with state ministries of health and partners to strengthen surveillance and response to the outbreak, confirming the presence of laboratory-confirmed cases.
He said that the people most at risk of contracting diphtheria are children and adults who have not received either one or more doses of the pentavalent vaccine (a vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid), people who live in crowded environments, and people who live in areas with poor sanitation. health care workers and others exposed to suspected/confirmed cases of diphtheria.
He further explained that diphtheria spreads easily between people and can be through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.
He advised parents to fully vaccinate their children against diphtheria with three doses of the five-valve vaccine as recommended in the child immunization schedule to avoid the disease.
Individuals are advised to self-isolate and notify their local government district, state disease control officer (DSNO), or NCDC of signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria.
Diphtheria: Be vigilant, look out for symptoms – NCDC urges health care workers