The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has alerted Nigerians over diphtheria, the latest bacteria infection of public concern, with confirmed cases recorded in Lagos and Kano State.
The agency disclosed this in a public advisory issued on Friday and signed by Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, its director-general.
According to the statement, diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that affects the nose, throat and sometimes, skin of an individual and people living in a dirty environment, and health workers who have been exposed to infected persons are at the risk of contracting the disease.
The statement reads in part, “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has responded to reports of diphtheria cases in Lagos and Kano State and is monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe states where cases are now being picked up. In addition to clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases and the NCDC is working with State Ministries of Health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak. This includes keeping the public informed on staying safe at home and in their communities.
“To reduce the risk of diphtheria, the NCDC offers the following advice:
“1. Parents should ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with three (3) doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the childhood immunisation schedule.
“2. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria, i.e., be vigilant and look out for symptoms of diphtheria.
“3. Individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify the local government area (LGA), state disease surveillance officer (DSNO) or the NCDC through our toll-free line (6232).
“4. Close contacts with a confirmed case of diphtheria should be closely monitored, given antibiotics prophylaxis and started on diphtheria antitoxin treatment when indicated.
“5. All healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, support staff etc.) with higher exposure to cases of diphtheria should be vaccinated against diphtheria.”
The statement highlighted symptoms to look out for in infected persons include runny rose, sore throat, cough, fever, red eyes and neck swelling. And in severe cases, a thick grey or white patch appears on the tonsils and/or at the back of the throat, causing difficulty breathing.
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