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FG warns Nigerians everyone is at risk of diphtheria.

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FG warns Nigerians everyone is at risk of diphtheria.
FG warns Nigerians everyone is at risk of diphtheria.

On Monday, the ministry’s Health Promotion Department issued a health advisory, asking Nigerians to be cautious and protect themselves.

The department stated that the disease, a life-threatening infection caused by bacteria, is easily transmitted from person to person through coughing, sneezing and contact with an open sore/blister/wound on the skin.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that diphtheria is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheria. The bacteria produce a toxin that causes severe damage to the respiratory system, heart, skin and other organs.

The disease, which usually has an incubation period of two to five days after exposure, can extend to 10 days in some cases.

The ministry advisory, therefore, cautioned that “Everyone is at risk of getting infected with diphtheria, especially children under five years and adults above 60 years.

“Also, children who have not completed three doses of the Pentavalent vaccination, people living in crowded areas, people that practice poor personal hygiene and people living in areas with poor environmental hygiene and sanitary condition are also vulnerable.

“Additionally, people with weak immune systems, people that travel to infected areas, people living in areas with poor access to health facilities, people caring for or having close contact with infected persons with diphtheria and healthcare workers in endemic areas are also at risk.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has, since December 2022, reported multiple diphtheria outbreaks in different states.

On June 30, NCDC confirmed 798 diphtheria cases from 33 local government areas in eight federation states, including the FCT. The centre added that 80 deaths have been recorded from the confirmed cases.

The signs and symptoms commonly associated with diphtheria are sore throats, which can be mild or severe, scratchy and painful, with a thick grey or white membrane that covers the back of the throat and tonsils.

Others are swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck, which can be moderate to high fever, usually above 38°C (100.4°F), cough, difficulty swallowing, and rapid and difficulty breathing, leading to airway blockage.

Other symptoms are general weakness, fatigue, hoarseness, or voice changes when it affects the vocal cords.

However, there is treatment for diphtheria, but early diagnosis is critical. The ministry’s directory advises anyone who experiences any of the signs and symptoms to promptly go to the nearest health facility for proper diagnosis and treatment.

On disease prevention, the ministry said vaccination, promoting herd immunity and practising good hygiene would help.

“Get vaccinated; diphtheria can be primarily prevented through vaccination. In Nigeria, three doses of the Pentavalent vaccine are administered to children to prevent the five diseases: Diphtheriaanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis B and Hemophilus influenza type B.

“The three doses are given as follows: first dose at six weeks of age, second at 10 weeks, and third at 14 weeks.

“However, Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) vaccine is also given to children two to five years old during immunisation campaigns, pregnant women during Ante Natal Care and health workers involved in handling diphtheria outbreak vaccination response.”

The Federal Government also advised the practice of good personal hygiene by constantly washing hands with soap under clean running water and cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand sanitiser if there is no water.

“Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Throw used tissue into a covered dustbin immediately, avoid close contact with sick persons and do not share personal items (clothes, cup, toothbrush) with another person,” the government cautioned.

It also advised keeping surroundings clean, while people should avoid crowded places.

SOURCE.


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