Kano recorded 78 suspected cases of diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection in 14 Local Government Areas, Dr. Abdullahi Kauran-Mata, the state Epidemiologist has said.
Kauran-mata told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Thursday in Abuja, that 27 samples have been taken to the laboratory out of which eight were confirmed positive and three deaths were registered in the state.
The state epidemiologist, however, said that death from probable cases has reached 15, as of Jan.18.
”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,”.
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.
Also speaking, Jennifer Shoshan, a Medical Laboratory Scientist with Innovative Biotech Limited, said that health workers may suspect diphtheria in a sick child who has a sore throat with a grey membrane covering the tonsils and throat.
“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.
Also speaking, Dr Gabriel Adekola, a Public Expert, said that diphtheria was a communicable disease transmitted via respiratory droplets and close contact with infected persons.
“Children are more commonly affected, but adults can also get infected. diphtheria can infect the respiratory tract (parts of the body involved in breathing) and skin,” he said.
Adakole said that diagnosis and treatment depended on the type of diphtheria someone has.
“People with diphtheria are usually no longer able to infect others 48 hours after they begin taking antibiotics. However, it is important to finish taking the full course of antibiotics to make sure the bacteria are completely removed from the body.
“After the patient finishes the full treatment, the doctor will run tests to make sure the bacteria are not in the patient’s body anymore,” he said.
The expert said that complications from respiratory diphtheria may include: airway blockage, myocarditis (damage to the heart muscle), Polyneuropathy (nerve damage) and kidney failure.
According to him, for some people, respiratory diphtheria can lead to death.
Even with treatment, he said, about one in 10 patients with respiratory diphtheria die.
He said without treatment, up to half of patients can die from the disease.