At least 25 people have been reported dead while others were hospitalized after an outbreak of diphtheria infection hit some communities in Kano state heightening panic among residents of the state.
Daily Trust gathered that the outbreak started last week in Tudun Rubudi and Bare-Bari communities in Ungogo Local Government Area of the state, and so far 25 deaths have been recorded.
Speaking to Daily Trust, a resident of one of the communities, Aminu Abdullahi, said the disease started when two of their neighbours had difficulties in breathing and later their throats got affected.
“The outbreak is real and so far seven people died in our community. Some officials came here including the commissioner for health. They gave us numbers to call in case there is another case,” he said.
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Also, the ward head of Bare Bari, Malam Ado Mai Unguwa, told our reporter that 11 people so far had died in his ward and that adequate measures were taken to create awareness of the dangers of the diseases.
Reports gathered that the killer disease which was first noticed in Kano late last year is being treated as an outbreak presently at Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, AKTH, in Kano.
However, when our reporter visited the two hospitals, none of the officials, patients and caregivers could ascertain where the victims of the disease are said to be receiving treatment.
According to records of the Kano State Ministry of Health on the outbreak, 58 suspected cases of the disease were documented, six were on admission and 25 patients died of diphtheria infection as of January 13.
It was further gathered that due to the enormity of the outbreak, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) last week deployed personnel to Kano to set up an incident command structure to conduct outbreak investigation for diphtheria, offer technical support and to reactivate operation centre for treatment.
Confirming the development earlier to journalists, Kano State Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, said the state emergency preparedness committee was meeting in the morning to evaluate the casualty and review the data and measures to address the situation.
Tsanyawa said the state rapid response team had been reactivated and an index action plan to check the spread of diphtheria was in place.
He said the low routine immunization attributed to the spread of the disease was due to the hard-to-be-reached areas in the state.
Tsanyawa said apart from the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital designated as an isolation centre, other isolation centres would be created to check the spread.
Also speaking to Daily Trust, the state Epidemiologist, Dr Abdullahi Isa Kauran Mata, said they had recorded 78 suspected cases of the disease and they were undergoing a test to confirm whether all the cases were Diphtheria.
He explained that they got information on the expected outbreak of the disease in December based on the number of children received in the state hospitals with symptoms of the disease.
“Immediately we get the information we quickly mobilized our team through the ministry of health and the investigation started. In the end, samples were taken and the first initial confirmation was done at a laboratory in AKTH. To further reaffirm that, the sample was sent to the National Reference Center in Abuja which further confirmed it is truly a Diphtheria infection.
“So far we have 78 suspected cases and 8 were confirmed to be Diphtheria and 3 deaths were recorded from them. But 15 suspected people also died before they were tested, so we are not sure whether they died from the disease,” he said.
He urged the media and the general public to sensitize people on the importance of immunization, especially children, as many of the cases recorded were a result of non-compliance with immunization by parents.