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Public Health: FCT Authorities announce Diphtheria outbreak, record 8 cases, a death

FCTA Abuja Entrance Gate

*Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Authority cautions residents against contracting Diphtheria, a disease that spreads easily through direct contact with infected persons, droplets from coughing or sneezing and contact with contaminated clothing and objects

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In a move to prevent more infections, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has announced that Diphtheria, a contagious disease, has broken out in Abuja, FCT, just as the epidemic has already claimed a life.

ConsumerConnect reports Dr. Sadiq Abdulraman, Director of Public Health at FCTA, who announced the disease outbreak at a media briefing, disclosed the development.

Abdulraman urged residents of FCT to immediately take the Pentavalent vaccine to stop spread of the disease, which infects the nose and throat.

Symptoms of Diphtheria infection

In terms of manifestation of the disease in a victim, the FCTA Director of Public Health explained that a Diphtheria patient experiences thick, grey matter covering the throat, making breathing hard.

According to Abdulraman, the disease also spreads through airborne respiratory droplets (coughs or sneezes), saliva (kissing or shared drinks).

FCT Administration records 8 cases, one death: Director

Dr. Abdulraman further   disclosed to reporters that of the eight cases recorded in Abuja, a four-year-old child died in Dei-Dei District of the FCT.

He said the results of samples taken from suspected cases in a village close to Dei-Dei established the breakout in the area.

Abdulraman, therefore, encouraged the FCT residents on the need for personal hygiene.

The Director as well urged them to report any strange symptom, especially relating to their respiratory health.

“Two weeks ago, we got information from a community within FCT of about eight suspected cases, which made our team to pick samples to the National Reference Laboratory Gaduwa and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“As of Friday afternoon, the results came out. Out of the eight suspected cases, one came out positive.”

The existence of the disease was reportedly established early 2023, in about three states across the country.

Abdulraman also recalled that “precisely, in January, a national alert was sent out on the outbreak of diphtheria in Lagos, Kano and Ondo states.

*That triggered a national response. NCDC, which is the flagship of disease outbreak and response in the country, sent a letter to all the states and FCT,” he noted.

Category of individuals mostly at risk

Meanwhile, Dr. Yahaya Vatsa, Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care at the Federal Capital Territory Administration  has revealed that people most at risk are the unvaccinated and those living in crowded areas and/or where there is poor sanitation.

Vatsa said: “Symptoms of the disease include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes, neck swelling and difficulty in breathing.

“Diphtheria spreads easily through direct contact with infected persons, droplets from coughing or sneezing and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.”

The Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Health Care also stated: “There is a need for hygiene and environmental sanitation.

“To reduce the risk of contracting the disease, FCT residents are, hereby, advised to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated with three doses of the Pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the national childhood immunisation schedule.”

The official also urged residents with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria to isolate themselves and notify the FCT Disease Surveillance Notification Officer (DSNO) and/or the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) through the FCT Call Centre toll-free lines.

Vatsa informed the populace that “close contacts with confirmed cases of diphtheria are being closely monitored with prophylactic antibiotics.”

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