In response to the recent surge in reported cases of diphtheria in certain states, the Nigeria Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (NCDC) has issued a warning to workers, emphasising the crucial importance of maintaining a high level of suspicion for the potential outbreak of this highly contagious bacterial infection.
The director-general of NCDC, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa stressed this message in a recent chat with the media monitored Abuja.
Diphtheria primarily affects the respiratory system and can lead to severe complications, including difficulty breathing and, in some cases, death if left untreated.
Adetifa highlighted the need for healthcare workers to remain vigilant and proactive in identifying potential cases of diphtheria, particularly in affected states. He urged them to be aware of symptoms such as sore throat, fever, difficulty swallowing, and the presence of a greyish-white membrane in the throat or nose.
Early detection and prompt reporting of suspected cases are crucial to prevent further spread of the infection, according to Adetifa. He recommended that healthcare workers maintain excellent personal hygiene practices, including regular handwashing and covering their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing. Additionally, he advised them to ensure their immunization status is up to date, including receiving the diphtheria vaccine.
The NCDC is actively collaborating with health authorities and healthcare facilities to provide necessary support and resources in response to the potential outbreak. The agency is also conducting surveillance and closely monitoring the situation to identify any clusters of cases and implement appropriate control measures.
Adetifa emphasised the importance of remaining vigilant and informed about the potential risks associated with diphtheria. He encouraged healthcare workers to take necessary precautions when handling suspected or confirmed cases of the disease. Active case search and risk communication are critical components of the prompt detection and management of disease outbreaks.
In areas considered diphtheria hotspots, national rapid response teams are working to support states in surveillance and community sensitization efforts aimed at preventing diphtheria.
As of October 3, Nigeria has recorded 13,204 suspected cases of diphtheria. Out of these, 8,406 cases were confirmed across 114 local government areas in 19 states, including the Federal Capital Territory. The majority of confirmed cases, 73.7 per cent, were among individuals aged one to 14 years.
Kano State in the northwest accounted for 86 per cent of the total confirmed cases, with 7,188 cases. Yobe State reported 775 cases, while Katsina and Borno recorded 232 and 118 cases, respectively. Several other states have also reported confirmed cases, highlighting the nationwide nature of the outbreak.
The agency urged healthcare workers and the general public to remain vigilant, practice good hygiene, promptly report suspected cases and take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of diphtheria and protect communities from this contagious disease.