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This highly infectious disease is vaccine-preventable.
One of the major diphtheria outbreaks recorded in Nigeria in recent years has killed a total of 80 people so far, according to a statement released Thursday by the Nigerian Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC).
"As of June 30, 2023, there have been 798 confirmed cases of diphtheria," the NCDC said, noting that 80 of the cases have died, representing a case fatality rate of 10.0%.
Officials noted that 71.7% of all confirmed cases were among children aged 2–14 years. The NCDC added that 654 of the confirmed cases were among unvaccinated persons.
The outbreak began in December, but more cases have been diagnosed in recent weeks. It has been reported in the capital, Abuja, and in seven of the country's 36 states, with most cases reported in the northern state of Kano (782), but also affecting Lagos, Yobe, Katsina, Cross River, Kaduna and Osun states.
Individuals at higher risk of #diphtheria infection are strongly advised to get vaccinated against diphtheria.
This highly infectious disease is vaccine-preventable. In this regard, the NCDC called for the need to improve the historical vaccination coverage in the West African country.
Although the disease "is covered by one of the vaccines routinely provided through Nigeria's childhood immunization schedule," less than half of children under 15 are fully protected against the disease, the NCDC said.
Officials said the response to the outbreak has been intensified, including surveillance, laboratory investigations, risk communication, case management, and immunization activities.
Diphtheria is caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Signs and symptoms usually appear 2 to 5 days after exposure and range from mild to severe, including sore throat and fever, breathing difficulties, heart rhythm problems, and even death.