What You Need to Know About Diphtheria: Deadly Disease Discovered in Abuja

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium species that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes the skin. Recently, there has been a diphtheria outbreak in Abuja, Nigeria, which has raised concerns about the spread of the disease.

In this blog post, we will provide you with important information about diphtheria, its causes, symptoms, and how to stay safe.

Causes

Diphtheria is caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make toxin. The bacteria are spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. The bacteria can also be spread by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Symptoms

The symptoms of diphtheria can range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Paralysis

It’s important to note that some people may not show any symptoms but can still spread the bacteria to others.

Spread

Diphtheria is highly contagious and can be fatal if not treated promptly. The disease is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. The bacteria can also be spread by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Prevention

The best way to prevent diphtheria is through vaccination. The diphtheria vaccine is usually given as part of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine for children and the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine for adults. It’s important to keep up to date with your vaccinations to ensure you are protected against diphtheria and other preventable diseases.Other ways to prevent the spread of diphtheria include:

  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with the bacteria.
READ ALSO  Tinubu Makes 26 New Official Appointments (Full list)

Treatment

If you suspect that you or someone you know has diphtheria, seek medical attention immediately. Treatment usually involves antibiotics to kill the bacteria and antitoxin to neutralize the toxin produced by the bacteria. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.

  1. Transmission: Diphtheria spreads through respiratory droplets from an infected person. It can also spread indirectly by touching contaminated objects. Close contact with an infected individual or sharing living spaces, such as households or schools, increases the risk of transmission.
  2. Symptoms: The symptoms of diphtheria can vary depending on the site of infection. In respiratory diphtheria, common symptoms include a sore throat, fever, and swollen glands in the neck. A grayish-white membrane may develop in the throat, which can obstruct the airway. Other forms of diphtheria can cause skin lesions or affect other organs like the heart and nervous system.
  3. Complications: If left untreated, diphtheria can lead to severe complications. The toxin produced by the bacteria can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Breathing difficulties, heart failure, paralysis, and even death can occur in severe cases.
  4. Diagnosis: Diphtheria can be diagnosed through laboratory tests. A swab from the throat or skin lesion is collected and analyzed for the presence of the bacteria or its toxin. Rapid diagnostic tests are available to identify the bacteria quickly.
  5. Treatment: Prompt treatment is crucial for diphtheria. It typically involves administering antitoxin to neutralize the toxin produced by the bacteria. Antibiotics, such as penicillin or erythromycin, are given to eliminate the bacteria. Supportive care, including maintaining airway patency, controlling fever, and providing fluids and nutrition, may also be necessary.
  6. Prevention: Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent diphtheria. The diphtheria vaccine is usually administered in combination with other vaccines, such as tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), in the form of the DTaP or Tdap vaccine. Routine vaccination schedules include doses during infancy and booster shots in childhood and adulthood. Vaccination not only protects individuals but also contributes to herd immunity, reducing the overall incidence of the disease.
  7. Booster doses: Immunity to diphtheria can wane over time. To maintain protection, booster doses of the vaccine are recommended. In many countries, regular booster doses are given every 10 years or as part of the tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine. It is important to stay up to date with vaccination, especially before traveling to areas where diphtheria is more prevalent.
  8. Global impact: Diphtheria remains a concern in certain regions with limited access to vaccines and healthcare services. Outbreaks can occur, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates or during humanitarian crises. In such situations, a coordinated response involving vaccination campaigns, surveillance, and early detection is crucial to prevent the spread of the disease.
READ ALSO  Federal High Court Mourns the Death of Hon. Justice Peter Hoommuk Mallong

Conclusion

Diphtheria is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can be prevented through vaccination and good hygiene practices. By staying informed about the causes, symptoms, and prevention of diphtheria, you can take steps to protect yourself and others from this deadly disease. Remember to keep up to date with your vaccinations and practice good hygiene habits to stay safe.

Leave a Comment