Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae. This strain of bacteria produces toxins which affects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. This very rare infection usually occurs in the spring or winter months.
In recent years, Nigeria has not recorded an outbreak of Diphtheria as high as the current one. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 123 cases of Diphtheria disease and 38 deaths across four states in January. The states affected were Lagos State, Yobe State, Osun State and Kano State.
It is transmitted through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, through contaminated personal or household items and by contact with infected wounds.
The risk factors are incomplete vaccination, living in crowded areas, poor sanitary condition, travelling to infested areas and immune system disorder.
The symptoms of Diphtheria involves a thick coating in the nose, throat, tongue and airway. Others are sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, weakness, chills, tiredness, breathing difficulty, nasal discharge, voice hoarseness, bluish skin, slurred speech, vision impairment, drooling, rapid heartbeat and swallow difficulties.
The complications of Diphtheria includes heart damage, nerve damage, kidney failure, myocarditis, paralysis and sometimes death.
The diagnosis of Diphtheria is by Culture and Microscopy of throat and nose swabs. Other tests involved are Full Blood Count, Immunochromatographic Strip Test (IST). It is treatable with medications.
Preventive measures includes vaccination, avoiding overcrowded environment, drinking enough water and taking fruits and vegetables.
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