According to the latest Epi situation report for Week 19 2022 to Week 09 2023, Nigeria has recorded another 377 new suspected cases of Diphtheria, bringing the total number of cases to 1,064 from 21 states. This is indeed a cause for concern, as Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that can cause severe respiratory problems, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDC, has disclosed that 62 deaths have been recorded from the outbreak so far. The new 377 suspected cases were reported from seven states across the country, with the majority of them (355 or 96.8 per cent) coming from Kano.
The situation report highlights that of the 377 suspected cases reported, 102 (27.1 per cent) were confirmed (9 lab-confirmed, 93 clinically compatible), 113 (30.0 per cent) were discarded, 148 (39.3 per cent) are pending classification, and 14 (3.7 per cent) were unknown. Six deaths were also recorded from confirmed cases, resulting in a case fatality rate (CFR) of 5.8 per cent during the period.
The report further shows that Nigeria has recorded a total of 1,064 suspected cases from Epi-week 19 2022 to Epi-week 09 2023, with Kano having the highest number of cases (843). Other states affected include Yobe with 86 cases, Katsina with 46 cases, Lagos with 22 cases, Sokoto with 14 cases, and Zamfara with 13 cases. These states account for 96.2 per cent of the total suspected cases.
Of the 1,064 suspected cases reported, 389 (36.6 per cent) were confirmed (45 were lab-confirmed, 343 were clinically compatible and 1 was epidemiologically linked), 322 (30.3 per cent) were discarded, 201 (18.9 per cent) are pending classification, and 152 (14.3 per cent) are unknown. The confirmed cases were distributed across 24 LGAs in six States. Majority (305 or 78.4 per cent) of the confirmed cases occurred among children aged 2 – 14 years.
The report also reveals that only 60 (15.4 per cent) out of the 389 confirmed cases were fully vaccinated with a Diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine. This underscores the importance of vaccinations in preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases like Diphtheria.
It is crucial that authorities in Nigeria take swift action to contain the outbreak and prevent further spread of the disease. This includes increasing public awareness about the risks of Diphtheria, improving surveillance and monitoring systems, ensuring adequate supplies of vaccines, and strengthening healthcare systems to provide prompt and effective treatment to those affected. The NCDC and other relevant stakeholders must work together to address this public health challenge and protect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.