The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) has said it has recorded no fewer than 123 cases and 38 deaths of diphtheria in Kano, Lagos, Yobe and Osun States
The NCDC Director of Special Duties, Dr Prescilia Ibekwe made the disclosure at the at the Bi- weekly COVID-19 press in Abuja on Monday.
Ibekwe said in addition to clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases and the NCDC is working with State Ministries of Health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
“Given the sub-optimal coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria containing pentavalent vaccine (54% – 2021 MICS & NICS) in the country, we expect more cases from more states.
Media engagements with the DG appearing on NTA, BBC, Channels and Arise News to speak on national efforts to containing diphtheria.
“The center has collaborated with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to organize a 5-day workshop on enhancing laboratory diagnosis of diphtheria in Nigeria for laboratory scientists working in NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories and its lab network (this was planned before cases were reported as part of preparedness), and;
“Written to all states HCHs to institute immediate and necessary public health measures for timely detection and response to diphtheria at state level”.
Ibekwe however said, to reduce the risk of diphtheria, the NCDC has published a public health advisory, accessible on our website, which educates Nigerians on risk factors and offers advice, including;
“Parents ensuring that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria”.
On COVID-19, ibekwe said to better understand and contain the prevailing global outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 variants, NCDC continues with national genomic surveillance efforts.
“The sub-lineages i.e., XBB.1.5 partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and elsewhere countries have not yet been detected in the country”.
“However, this variant has not been associated with increased severity of illness and now appears to be levelling off”.
“The variants reported in China so far have been those circulating globally including in Nigeria for some time”. She added.