9th October, 2023
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has advised workers on the importance of maintaining a high index suspicion for the potential outbreak of diphtheria.
The Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the respiratory system.
It can lead to severe complications, including difficulty in breathing and death if left untreated.
Adetifa said there was need for health workers to maintain a high index suspicion for diphtheria to ensure early detection and treatment most especially in affected states.
“With the recent increase in reported cases of diphtheria in certain states, the NCDC is urging workers to be vigilant and proactive in identifying potential signs and symptoms of the disease.
“This includes being aware of the symptoms such as sore throat, fever, and difficulty in swallowing, as well as the presence of a greyish-white membrane in the throat or nose,” he said.
The NCDC boss underscored the significance of early detection and prompt reporting of suspected cases to prevent further spread of the infection.
He recommended that workers maintain good personal hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and covering of their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing.
Additionally, he advised health workers to stay updated on their immunization status and ensure that their vaccinations, including the diphtheria vaccine are up to date.
Adetifa said that the agency was working closely with health authorities and in healthcare facilities to provide necessary support and resources in response to the potential outbreak.
He said the agency was also conducting surveillance and monitoring the situation to identify any cluster of cases and same time implementing appropriate control measures.
“In light of the NCDC’s cautionary message, it is crucial for workers to remain vigilant and informed about the potential risks associated with diphtheria.
“By staying alert, practising good hygiene, and promptly reporting any suspected cases, workers can contribute to preventing the spread of the disease and protecting both themselves and their communities.
“Let them take necessary precautions when handling suspected or confirmed cases of diphtheria,” he said.
According to him, active case search and risk communication are critical to the prompt detection and management of disease outbreaks.
The DG said that the national rapid response teams were supporting the states in surveillance and sensitization of communities on diphtheria prevention across diphtheria hotspot areas.
Diphtheria infections in the country have continued to rise according to a report on Oct. 3, with the country recording 13,204 suspected cases.
“Out of the suspected cases, 8,406 cases were confirmed from 114 local government areas (LGAs) across 19 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
“Of the 8,406 confirmed cases, 6,202 (73.7 per cent) were aged one to 14 years.
“With 7,188 cases, Kano State in the Northwest accounted for 86 per cent of the total 8,406 confirmed cases.
“Yobe state followed on the log of infections with 775 cases, while Katsina and Borno recorded 232 and 118 cases respectively,” he said.
Adetifa added that Jigawa State recorded 23 infections, followed by Bauchi 20; Kaduna 17; Lagos eight; FCT six; Gombe five; while Osun and Sokoto states recorded three cases each.
Niger State recorded two cases, while six states: Cross River, Enugu, Imo, Nasarawa, Zamfara, and Kebbi recorded a single case each.