Nigeria Records 7,202 Diphtheria Outbreak Cases and 453 Deaths

As of September 24, the Federal Government of Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), has confirmed a total of 7,202 cases of diphtheria, resulting in 453 deaths across 105 local government areas (LGAs) in 18 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The state of Kano accounts for a significant portion of these cases, representing 85.9% or 6,185 cases out of the total.

Other states reporting cases of diphtheria include Yobe (640 cases), Katsina (213 cases), Borno (95 cases), Kaduna (16 cases), Jigawa (14 cases), Bauchi (eight cases), Lagos (eight cases), FCT (five cases), Gombe (five cases), Osun (three cases), Sokoto (three cases), Niger (two cases), Cross River (one case), Enugu (one case), Imo (one case), Nasarawa (one case), and Zamfara (one case).

The government’s findings reveal that a significant portion of the confirmed cases in this outbreak—80%—involved individuals who had not received vaccination against diphtheria.

Consequently, the government urges individuals displaying symptoms suggestive of diphtheria to promptly seek medical attention at healthcare facilities or designated diphtheria treatment centers.

Additionally, individuals and healthcare workers are encouraged to report cases to their Local Government Areas (LGA), State Disease Surveillance Officer (DSNO), state ministries of health helpline, or the NCDC through its toll-free line at 6232.

The statement emphasizes the government’s continuous response to diphtheria outbreaks across various states in Nigeria since the re-emergence of the disease in December 2022.

The situation has led to 11,587 reported suspected cases, with 7,202 confirmed cases in 105 LGAs across 18 states and the FCT. Most of these cases—6,185—were reported in Kano State.

Among the confirmed cases, the majority (73.6%) were children aged one to 14 years, with those between five and 14 years old being the most affected. Tragically, the outbreak has resulted in 453 deaths, yielding a case fatality rate of 6.3%.

Given the escalation of the outbreak and the observation that 80% of confirmed cases were among unvaccinated individuals, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has established a national emergency task team to coordinate outbreak response efforts at a higher level.

The task force is co-chaired by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Prominent members include representatives from the Federal Ministry of Information, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), USCDC, USAID, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development partners.

The government’s response includes the procurement of diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) and intravenous erythromycin, which were distributed to affected states.

Diphtheria Treatment Centres/Wards have been established in these states with support from partners and in collaboration with state Ministries of Health.

Intensified routine diphtheria immunization and reactive vaccination campaigns have been conducted in 33 LGAs across five states: Bauchi, Katsina, Yobe, Kano, and Kaduna, under the NPHCDA’s supervision.

Additionally, vaccines and essential logistics have been procured for three large-scale Outbreak Response campaigns in 56 LGAs across seven priority states: Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Yobe.

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