Concerns have been raised in Kano State as the deadly killer disease, Diphtheria, has claimed the lives of at least sixty-one (61) people since its outbreak a few weeks ago.
Hotnewsdrop understands that Diphtheria is a severe bacterial infection caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat and sometimes, an individual’s skin.
In January, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) alerted Nigerians about the virus outbreak with the theme ‘Diptheria outbreak in Nigeria: Vaccination Response.’
Giving an update on the state of the disease since the first record in Kano State, the state case Manager, Dr Salma Suwaid, told newsmen during a webinar organized by the NCDC on Monday that a total of 783 patients have been on admission so far.
According to him, 360 were females, and 423 were males. Suwaid, also a Consultant Paediatrician, noted that the patients’ average hospital stay is four days.
He said: “Eighty-three per cent of deaths occurred in patients with the onset of symptoms greater than three days and an average of 15 admission days.
“Sixty-eight percent of patients have been discharged, 1.66 per cent absconded and 12.2 per cent died.”
On the preliminary assessment of patients, she said the space which is dedicated to triaging is adequately staffed and equipped with the necessary equipment for resuscitations.
“Crowd control personnel are stationed, suspected cases are identified, cases are categorised according to severity, swabs are taken and all healthcare workers adhere to safety precautions,” She noted, adding that DAT administration is done only once as early as possible
“As DAT is of equine origin, there is a risk of rare but severe anaphylaxis reaction and a frequent risk of mild reaction. Therefore, several measures are taken to mitigate the risks. The first is that DAT must be given in a hospital setting,” Suwaid mentioned.
The Paediatrician said there is a need to strengthen surveillance to ensure early detection of diseases of public health importance to mitigate their propagation at early stages.
In his remark during the webinar, 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 two to 14 years.
She added that the agency is responding with vaccination and routine immunisation in at-risk states. Also speaking, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said most confirmed cases of the infection are either not vaccinated or under-vaccinated.
“It is, however, important to document peculiar diphtheria cases so we can share it and it becomes a constant reference material,” he said.
Hotnewsdrop understands that Diphtheria spreads quickly 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 epidemic.
So far, the infection has been confirmed in Kano, Yobe, Lagos, Osun, and Katsina states.