Diphtheria Outbreak Spreads Across 105 LGAs, kills 453 Children

Similar to a rapidly spreading wildfire, the most recent Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria has now reached 105 Local Government Areas throughout the nation, resulting in the tragic loss of 453 children as of September 24th, 2023.

Diphtheria, a disease caused by the toxin produced by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae, can be prevented through vaccination, which is part of Nigeria’s routine childhood immunization schedule.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) have provided an update on the federal government’s response to this outbreak.

They reported that 7,202 cases out of 11,587 suspected cases have been confirmed as of the mentioned date, with the outbreak affecting 105 Local Government Areas in 18 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Among these confirmed cases, 73.6 percent, totaling 5,299 cases, occurred in children aged 1 to 14 years, with those aged 5 to 14 years experiencing the highest impact of the disease. Notably, Kano recorded the highest number of confirmed cases at 6,185, with other affected states including Yobe (640), Katsina (213), Borno (95), Kaduna (16), Jigawa (14), Bauchi (8), Lagos (8), FCT (5), Gombe (5), Osun (3), Sokoto (3), Niger (2), Cross River (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), Nasarawa (1), and Zamfara (1).

“So far, a total of 453 deaths have occurred in confirmed cases giving a case fatality rate (CFR) of 6.3 per cent,” they noted.

They further pointed out that as the outbreak continued to intensify and investigations revealed that 80 percent of the confirmed cases in the ongoing outbreak had not received vaccinations, the Coordinating Minister of Health, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, has established a national emergency task team. This team is co-chaired by the Executive Director of NPHCDA and the Director General of NCDC to enhance the coordination of efforts in response to the outbreak at a higher level.

The primary goal of this task force is to facilitate optimal cooperation among all pertinent healthcare stakeholders involved in the battle against the outbreak. Notable members of this task force include the Director of Public Health from the Federal Ministry of Health, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), USCDC, USAID, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, various non-governmental organizations, and development partners.


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