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Many killed as diphtheria hits Kano



There has been at least 15 confirmed cases of diphtheria in Kano State, as of January 18, according to the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Abdullahi Kauran-Mata.

In 14 local government areas of the state, he claimed, 78 suspected instances of the extremely contagious bacterial infection have been detected.

Kauran-mata informed the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Thursday, in Abuja, that 27 samples had been submitted to the laboratory, out of which 8 had been confirmed as positive and 3 deaths had been reported in the state.

”Currently, the state government has set up a diphtheria treatment centre with support from the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) at Murtala Muhammad specialist hospital where the active cases are receiving treatment.

”Community sensitisation, through radio jingles, radio discussion has since begun.

”The state government has also established a coordinating body ( Diphtheria Technical Working Group) led by the Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer (DSNO) to coordinate the response to the outbreak.”

Read also:WHO/UNICEF raise the alarm as new data show decline in global vaccination coverage

Kauran-mata said that diphtheria was a vaccine-preventable disease.

”However, the vaccine is mainly for children based on the immunisation protocol of the country.

”Other preventative measures include; the wearing of a facemask, proper hand and personal hygiene, minimal contact with infected persons and prompt referral to the health facility,” he said.

Health professionals may suspect diphtheria in a sick child who has a sore throat and a grey film covering the tonsils and throat, according to Mrs. Jennifer Shoshan, a Medical Laboratory Scientist of Innovative Biotech Limited, who also took the podium.

“Growth of C. diphtheria in a laboratory culture of material from the throat membrane confirms the diagnosis,” she said.

Shoshan said that healthcare workers can also take a tissue sample from an infected wound and have it tested in a lab to check for the type of diphtheria that affects the skin (cutaneous diphtheria).

“If health care workers suspect diphtheria, treatment begins immediately, even before the results of bacterial tests are available,” she explained.

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