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 organised 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.
So far, the infection has been confirmed in Kano, Yobe, Lagos, Osun, and Katsina states.
Suwaid, who is also a Consultant Paediatrician 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 three 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.”
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 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.
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.
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 two to 14 years.
She added that the agency is responding with vaccination and routine immunisation 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.
“It is, however, important to document peculiar diphtheria cases so we can share it and it becomes a constant reference material,” he said.