The Nigeria Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (NCDC), has provided an update on the national response to the resurging diphtheria outbreak in the country.
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said this at the Diphtheria National briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
According to the director-general, as of Thursday, there have been 15,060 reported suspected cases of diphtheria, with 9,478 confirmed cases across 137 Local Government Areas in 20 states, including the Federal Capital Territory.
“The breakdown by state shows that Kano has the highest number of cases at 7,747, followed by Yobe with 841 cases.
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“The data also revealed that the majority of the confirmed cases, 71.5 per cent were aged between 1-14 years, with infants accounting for less than one per cent of the cases.
“It was noted that most of the confirmed cases had not been vaccinated against diphtheria, with 59.8 per cent being either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated,” he said.
In response to the outbreak, Adetifa said that the NCDC had deployed National Rapid Response Teams (NRRTs) to the affected states, offering on-site surveillance and response support.
He, however, lamented that security challenges had limited accessibility to some locations in some of the affected Local Government Areas.
“The laboratory network has been instrumental in conducting preliminary and confirmatory testing at both sub-national and national levels.
“Currently, there are 18 laboratories in the Diphtheria Laboratory Network across 13 states, with ongoing optimisation efforts in Jigawa and Zamfara.
“The NCDC has also provided training and technical support to laboratory personnel across states,” Adetifa said.
He said that risk communication and community engagement have been prioritised in addressing the outbreak.
“The NCDC has developed and disseminated public health advisories on diphtheria, as well as social behavioural change materials in collaboration with partners.
“Diphtheria Treatment Centers/Wards have been established in affected states, and the availability of DAT and IV erythromycin has significantly reduced the case fatality rate,” Adetifa said.
He advised Nigerians to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diphtheria, such as fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, and red eyes.
According to him, prompt presentation to healthcare facilities or designated diphtheria treatment centres is encouraged for individuals with suggestive symptoms.
“Vaccination with the Pentavalent or TD vaccine is emphasised as the most effective protection against diphtheria, with the Federal Government providing free vaccines at all Primary Healthcare Centers nationwide,” Adetifa said.
The NCDC director-general urged Nigerians to avoid sharing unverified information and to rely on official government channels for accurate and verified information.
“The ongoing vaccination campaign in all states is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to ensure their children aged 0-14 years are vaccinated,” he advised. (NAN)