Diphtheria: NCDC confirms 798 cases, 80 deaths

Diphtheria: NCDC confirms 798 cases, 80 deaths

  • House of Reps urges urgent action

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday released an official statement on current situation of diphtheria in the country saying no fewer than 798 of confirmed cases have been recorded so far in 33 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 8 States including the FCT as of June 30th, 2023.

The states include Kano, Lagos, Yobe, Katsina, Cross River, Kaduna, Osun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The statement signed by the NCDC Director General,  Dr Ifedayo Adetifa also stated that 80 deaths have been recorded among all confirmed cases.

The centre disclosed that multiple outbreaks had been recorded from the states since December 2022 adding that the majority of the 798 confirmed cases occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years.

Also, most of the cases were reported in Kano state which recorded 782 out of the country’s 798  confirmed cases

Reviewing the situation, the House of Representatives, yesterday, called on the Centre and the Federal Ministry of Health to urgently evolve measures to contain the outbreak to reduce the number of fatalities already recorded in the affected states.

The call was sequel to the consideration of a motion moved by Hon Muktar Shagaya from Kwara state at Thursday plenary.

Adopting the motion, the House called on the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and NCDC to intensify their sensitization and enlightenment campaign to prevent and eradicate the scourge of diphtheria and other related diseases across the country.

Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa
DG, NCDC

However, NCDC in its statement listed its response to the diphtheria outbreak in the Country saying it has 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,” the statement said.

On Case Management NCDC said:

“For the first time in over two decades, the country through NCDC and with support from World Health Organization, procured and prepositioned diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) in-country and distributed it to the affected states.” 

Other intervention include:

  • Development and dissemination of Standard Operating Procedures for DAT use.
  • With support from Medecins Sans Frontiere (MSF) and the Kano State Ministry of Health, established two isolation wards with a total capacity of over 80 beds at Murtala Mohammad Specialist Hospital (MMSH), Kano State.
  • Development and dissemination of public health advisories on diphtheria.
  • Media appearances/engagement on diphtheria with media stakeholders to create awareness, inform the public and bridge knowledge gaps.
  • Development and dissemination of diphtheria SBCC materials (Posters, FAQs, Flyers, and PSA) for dissemination to affect states.
  • Coordinated the diphtheria Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) stakeholders’ coordination meetings both at the national and sub-national levels.
  • Webinar series to share knowledge and raise awareness of response activities in the country.
  • Intensification of routine diphtheria immunisation and some catch-up vaccination campaigns by our sister agency, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in states with high numbers of children who have not received any childhood vaccine at all (zero-dose).

NCDC Advice

To reduce the risk of diphtheria, the NCDC offers the following advice:

  • Parents should ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with the 3 doses of diphtheria antitoxin-containing pentavalent vaccine given as part of Nigeria’s childhood immunisation schedule.
  • Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria.
  • Individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify their LGA, State disease surveillance officer (DSNO), their State Ministry of Health helpline, or the NCDC through our toll-free line on 6232.
  • Individuals who have come in close contact with a confirmed case of diphtheria should be closely monitored, given antibiotics prophylaxis, and started on diphtheria treatment when indicated.
  • Healthcare workers should practice standard infection prevention and control precautions while handling patients and body fluids.
  • All healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, support staff etc.) with a high level of exposure to cases of diphtheria should be vaccinated against diphtheria.

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