The Kano State Government has confirmed the outbreak of diphtheria in 13 out of the 44 local government areas of the North-Western Nigeria state.
Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae.
Most infections are asymptomatic or have a mild clinical course, but in some outbreaks more than 10 per cent of those diagnosed with the disease may die.
The Kano State Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, stated on Saturday at a briefing on diphtheria and Lassa fever outbreaks in the state that 100 suspected cases have been recorded out of which three have died.
“As at 20th of January 2023, we have recorded 100 suspected cases from 13 LGAs.
”Ungogo, Nassarawa, Bichi, Dala, Dawakin Tofa, Dawakin Kudu, Fagge, Gwale, Kano Municipal, Kumbotso, Kiru, Rano, and Gwarzo.
”Out of the 100 suspected cases, eight were confirmed, while we are awaiting more results.
“We have lost three lives among the eight confirmed cases,” Tsanyawa said.
Currently, according to him, 27 patients were on admission receiving treatment while 41 others have been managed and discharged.
On Lassa fever, the commissioner explained that on January 10, the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre received a report of suspected case of Lassa fever from Muhammad Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital, Kano.
He said that a team was deployed to investigate, sample was taken for laboratory test and three days later the result turned positive for Lassa fever.
“10 samples were taken from the high-risk contacts of the index case, three became positive, making a total of four cases which are currently managed at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Isolation Centre,” Tsanyawa said.
He noted that the Kano State Government had activated the Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Centre for isolating the Lassa fever cases.
He further explained that medical personnel have been trained and transferred to the isolation center, which, according to him, is duly provisioned with drugs and other consumables and is fully functional.
The commissioner pointed out that the state would conduct a routine immunisation campaign to the affected local government areas.
Signs and symptoms of diphtheria may vary from mild to severe and usually start two to five days after exposure. Symptoms often come on fairly gradually, beginning with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, a grey or white patch develops in the throat. This can block the airway and create a barking cough as in croup. The neck may swell in part due to enlarged lymph nodes.
A form of diphtheria which involves the skin, eyes or genitals also exists. Complications may include myocarditis, inflammation of nerves, kidney problems, and bleeding problems due to low levels of platelets. Myocarditis may result in an abnormal heart rate and inflammation of the nerves may result in paralysis.
Diphtheria is usually spread between people by direct contact or through the air. It may also be spread by contaminated objects. Some people carry the bacterium without having symptoms but can still spread the disease to others.
The three main types of C. diphtheriae cause different severities of disease. The symptoms are due to a toxin produced by the bacterium. Diagnosis can often be made based on the appearance of the throat with confirmation by microbiological culture. Previous infection may not protect against infection.
Lassa fever is an animal-borne, or zoonotic, acute viral illness spread by the common African rat. It is endemic in parts of West Africa including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Neighboring countries are also at risk because the animal vector lives throughout the region.
The first documented case occurred in 1969. Lassa fever is named after the town in Nigeria where the first cases occurred.
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