What You Should Know About the Diphtheria Outbreak in Nigeria

An outbreak of diphtheria, a serious disease that is especially harmful to children, has been confirmed in Nigeria. But what is diphtheria, and what leads to its spread, asks Motunrayo Joel from Africa Check.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that is often fatal in up to 10% of cases. It is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria, of which humans are the only natural host. It affects all age groups but mostly young children. It is transmitted through respiratory secretions, or by breathing in droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which tackles public health emergencies in Nigeria has raised the alarm over an outbreak of diphtheria, a serious bacterial infection. The agency has reported that it recorded a total of 123 cases so far and 23 deaths across four states of the federation as of January 22, 2023.

Health experts have said the 2023 outbreak in Nigeria was caused by the widening gap in immunisation coverage. The NCDC says it is supporting states with antitoxins for the treatment of confirmed cases of diphtheria, and that it is also working with scientists to increase the diagnostic capacity for diphtheria.

Nigeria confirms outbreak of new infection.

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