Nigeria records 557 diphtheria cases, 73 deaths


At least 557 confirmed cases of diphtheria have been detected across 21 states in Nigeria since the beginning of 2023, a World Health Organisation report has shown.

The death toll has also risen to 73 with a case-fatality ratio of 13 per cent.

In December 2022, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was notified of suspected diphtheria outbreaks in Kano and Lagos States.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease that spreads between people mainly by direct contact or through the air via respiratory droplets. The disease can affect all age groups, however, unimmunised children are particularly at risk. It is potentially fatal.
The WHO, in the latest diphtheria situation report in Nigeria obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday, noted that 1,439 suspected cases were reported from May 14, 2022, to April 9, 2023.

“In January 2023, the number of confirmed cases increased, peaking at over 150 cases in week four of 2023 (ending January 28); since then, a weekly decreasing trend has been observed.

“From May 14, 2022, to April 9, 2023, 1,439 suspected diphtheria cases were reported from 21 states in Nigeria, with the majority (83 per cent) of cases reported from Kano (1,188), Yobe (97), Katsina (61), Lagos (25), Sokoto (14) and Zamfara (13). Of the 1,439 suspected cases, 557 (39 per cent) were confirmed (51 laboratory-confirmed, 504 clinically compatible, and two epidemiologically linked), 483 (34 per cent) were discarded, and 399 (28 per cent) are pending classification.

“Laboratory-confirmed cases were reported from Kano (45), Lagos (3), Kaduna (one), Katsina (one), and Osun (one) states. Among the 557 confirmed cases, 73 deaths were recorded, for a CFR of 13 per cent. The CFR has dropped significantly since the beginning of the outbreak due to, among other factors, increased access to diphtheria antitoxin,” it read in part.

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