Diphtheria is a serious and contagious infection caused by strain of bacterial infection that occurs due to Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make a toxin.
It is a poisonous substance that can cause people to get very sick.
Symptoms often appear in the skin or respiratory system. If the toxin enters one’s bloodstream, it can damage the kidneys, cause heart failure, sore throat, fever and tiredness, difficulty in breathing and can led to paralysis.
A person can develop inflammation of the heart muscles, damage the nerve and cause muscle weakness, pain and tingling sensations.
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The major symptoms of the disease are fever and sore throat.
The infection can transmit from a person with the infection to any another person by direct contact, through the air, or through contact with contaminated objects.
Touching an infected wound also can be transferred. The bacterial infection can lead to severe complications, including death.
In warmer climates, contagious person might also develop skin sores that will not heal and may be covered with the grey tissue.
After 2 to 3 days, the released poisonous substance kills the healthy tissue in a person’s respiratory system.
This results in a thick, gray coating that develops in the nose or throat.
People who are at increased risk of catching diphtheria include children and adults who don’t have up-to-date vaccinations.
People living in poor crowded or unsanitary conditions and anyone who travels to an area where diphtheria infections are more common.
Nigeria is currently facing a second wave of a diphtheria outbreak after a first wave of the outbreak was recorded in the year 2022, and now 2023.
There is an increase in the affected population with a rise in the number of confirmed cases and related deaths reported.
There is an increased risk of transmission, with clusters and outbreaks reported in newly affected areas.
Borno State is one of the states that has recorded high outbreak of diphtheria diseases.
According to Jonah Japheth, a public health specialist for African Novice Nurses Initiative in Maiduguri; 481 diphtheria cases were recorded so far and 49 persons died out of the 481 cases recorded.
He further state that samples were taken to national laboratory in Abuja and it was confirmed that all cases were diphtheria infection.
Diphtheria is a preventable disease. The disease is common among the poor living in crowded areas. After years of the insurgency which affected the development of the state, a lot of children were left vulnerable and exposed to the contagious disease.
Borno is one of the largest states with large population in the northern part of the country, hence, the state is at a higher risk of contacting diphtheria disease.
It is said that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. The Borno State Government should provide a means of tackling this contagious disease in the state.
Government should organise public lectures and seminars on diphtheria disease, informing and educating people on its dangers and providing profitable solution on how to avoid being in contact with an infected person.
Since the disease is common in crowded places, government should organise workshops for teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions. This will help in eradicating the high outbreak of diphtheria cases in the state.
The control of diphtheria is based on primary prevention of disease by ensuring high population immunity through vaccination, and prevention of spread by the rapid investigation of close contacts to ensure prompt treatment of those infected.
Vaccination is also the key to preventing cases and outbreaks.
The government should provide adequate clinical management which involves administering diphtheria anti-toxin to neutralize the toxin and antibiotics reducing complications and mortality.
Lastly, I hope the government will take prompt action in curtailing the widespread of this deadly contagious disease in Borno State.
Dunama David Dumayo wrote from University of Maiduguri