The Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) says a total of 798 confirmed diphtheria cases with 80 deaths have been recorded across eight states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) since the beginning of this year.
In a statement Thursday signed by its Director General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, NCDC said the cases were recorded across 33 Local Government Areas of the affected states.
The statement said most of the cases were recorded in Kano, Lagos, Yobe, Katsina, Cross River, Kaduna, and Osun.
It said ,”The majority (71.7%) of the 798 confirmed cases occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years. So far, a total of 80 deaths have been recorded among all confirmed cases representing a case fatality rate of 10.0%.”
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NCDC said it was also aware of the death last month of a four-year-old with diphtheria in the FCT, Abuja.
“As of 3rd of July 2023, only 1 confirmed case has been detected, with 7 suspected cases testing negative while others are awaiting laboratory results. No other death was recorded apart from the laboratory-confirmed case,” it said.
NCDC said it has since December 2022 been reporting multiple diphtheria outbreaks in different states across the country.
Diphtheria caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, is a vaccine-preventable disease covered by one of the vaccines provided routinely through Nigeria’s childhood immunization schedule.
The statement said despite the availability of a safe and cost-effective vaccine in the country, the majority , 654 (82%) of 798 confirmed diphtheria cases in this ongoing outbreak were unvaccinated, adding that this unfortunately, also includes the recently announced FCT case.
NCDC said it was working with the FCT Health and Human Services Department just like in other states reporting cases, to implement control measures and avert the further spread of the disease.
It also urged the public to remain vigilant and ensure persons with symptoms of diphtheria present early to health facilities for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
“Early diagnosis and institution of effective treatment are key predictors of a favorable outcome. Healthcare workers are urged to immediately notify LGA disease surveillance officers once they see a suspected case.”