An outbreak of diphtheria infection has claimed 61 lives in Kano State as of March 2, 2023.

The Kano State Case Manager, Dr Salma Suwaid, disclosed this on Monday at a webinar organized by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention with the theme ‘Diptheria outbreak in Nigeria: Vaccination Response.’

Dr Suwaid also said a total of 783 patients have been on admission so far. Of this number, 360 were females and 423 were males.

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes, skin of an individual.

Diphtheria spreads easily between people through direct contact with infected people droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.

The ongoing diphtheria outbreak and the associated high-case fatality were due to a combination of low vaccination coverage and the absence of diphtheria antitoxin during the early stage of the outbreak.

According to Dr Suwaid who is also a consultant paediatrician so far, the infection has been confirmed in Kano, Yobe, Lagos, Osun, and Katsina states noted that the average hospital stay of the patients is four days.

“Eighty-three per cent of deaths occurred in patients with the onset of symptoms greater than 3 days and an average of 15 admission days.

“Sixty-eight per cent of patients have been discharged, 1.66 per cent absconded and 12.2 per cent died.”

The Pediatrician said there was a need to strengthen surveillance to ensure early detection of diseases of public health importance to mitigate their propagation at early stages.

Also speaking, Dr Adejoke Oladele of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency said the majority of the confirmed diphtheria cases in the country occurred in children aged 2 to 14 years.

She added that the agency is responding with vaccination and routine immunization in the states at risk.

In his remarks, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said most confirmed cases of the infection are either not vaccinated or under-vaccinated.

Punch/Adebukola Aluko/Adetutu Adetule

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