Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the throat and airways, and can cause serious complications such as breathing difficulties, heart failure, and paralysis. It is preventable by vaccination, but many people in Nigeria are not fully immunized against it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has recorded over 500 confirmed cases of diphtheria since January 2023, affecting 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Kano State has the highest number of cases (118), followed by Yobe (97), Katsina (61), Lagos (25), Sokoto (14), and Zamfara (13).
This is the largest diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria since January 2023, when 25 people died in Kano State alone. The capacity to diagnose the disease and treat patients is limited in many remote areas, where access to health care and immunization is poor. The previous outbreak in 2011 was smaller and only affected Borno State.
The Kano State Government has established three treatment centres in three hospitals to manage the outbreak. The state commissioner for health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, said that the centres are equipped with drugs, oxygen, and ventilators to provide adequate care for the patients.
The state and federal governments are also working together to conduct mass immunization campaigns to prevent further spread of the disease. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said that it has deployed teams of vaccinators to Kano State to administer the pentavalent vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b.
The NPHCDA urged parents and caregivers to ensure that their children receive the full course of immunization, which consists of three doses at six, 10, and 14 weeks of age, and a booster dose at 18 months. The agency also advised people to practice good hygiene, avoid contact with sick people, and seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of diphtheria.
Diphtheria is a serious threat to public health and can be fatal if left untreated. By taking preventive measures and getting vaccinated, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from this disease. Stay safe and healthy!
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