The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced the outbreak of a new infection of the nose and throat also known as Diphtheria.
No fewer than 25 people have died of the disease in Kano State, Nigeria.
The NCDC shared the news in a public health advisory on Friday, stating that it has responded to reports of diphtheria in Kano while “monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe States where cases are now being picked up”.
Though the NCDC did not give any information on the number of confirmed cases or deaths, the Kano State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Aminu Tsanyawa, had on Thursday confirmed that about 25 people had been killed by the disease in the state.
The disease control body said it would be working with state health ministries and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that afflicts the nose, throat, and sometimes, the skin of an individual. It is caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium species.
Similar to COVID-19, symptoms of the disease include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and neck swelling.
In severe cases, the NCDC said that a thick grey or white patch appears on the tonsils and/or at the back of the throat associated with difficulty breathing.
The NCDC cautioned that the disease is easily spread through direct contact with infected persons, droplets from coughing or sneezing, and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.
The body shared that the people who had the highest risk of contracting the disease are children and adults who have not received any or a single dose of the pentavalent vaccine (a diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine), people who live in a crowded environment, in areas with poor sanitation and healthcare workers who are exposed to suspected or confirmed cases of diphtheria.
The disease can be prevented through vaccination, as such the NCDC encouraged parents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the childhood immunization schedule.
It also urged healthcare workers to be vigilant and look out for symptoms of diphtheria, adding that individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify the local government area, state disease surveillance officer, or the NCDC through its toll-free line (6232).
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that close contacts of someone with diphtheria should receive antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick.
It added that such contacts should be “monitored for possible illness for 7 to 10 days from the time they were last exposed, tested for diphtheria with a sample collected from the nose and throat and given a diphtheria booster shot if they are not up to date with their vaccines.”