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Nigeria Records 453 Deaths, 7,202 Diphtheria Cases

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The Federal Government has recorded 453 deaths and 11,587 suspected cases of diphtheria in the country with 7,202 confirmed cases from 105 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 18 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This comes as the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate reportedly established a national emergency task team. A breakdown of the figure showed that Kano State accounted for 6,185, 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).

The figures were revealed yesterday by the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Shuaib said the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was aware of the mounting concern on the Diphtheria outbreak in several states and since the confirmation of the re-emergence of the disease, the federal government had continued to respond to the outbreaks across different states.

Shuaib quoted Prof Pate as saying,"“I am chairing the task force alongside the director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for higher level coordination of outbreak response efforts.

“This includes ensuring optimal collaboration of all relevant health stakeholders in this fight. Other prominent members of the task force include the director of public health in FMoH, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Information, World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, USCDC, USAID, GAVI, other non-governmental organizations and development partners,” Shuaib quoted the minister as saying.

Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacterium, which produces a toxin that primarily affects the respiratory system and causes severe sickness. It is transmitted through respiratory droplets, largely impacting un-immunised or inadequately vaccinated individuals. Most vulnerable are children, and adults with weakened immune systems.

Upon infection, diphtheria targets the throat and nose, leading to a thick greyish membrane formation that can obstruct breathing and cause asphyxia. The toxin also damages vital organs, such as the heart and nerves. Without quick medical intervention, victims can suffer from respiratory distress, heart failure, paralysis, and potentially, death.