FCTA announces outbreak of diphtheria infection as 4-yr-old dies in Abuja
The outbreak of the infection in the FCT was confirmed after one of the results from the samples taken from suspected cases in a village close to Dei-Dei area, returned positive.
The Director, FCT Public Health Department, Dr. Sadiq Abdulrahman, announced the outbreak in a news conference on Monday in Abuja.
Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that produces toxins leading to difficulty breathing, heart rhythm problems, and could lead to death.
Abdulrahman said that the disease had already killed a four-year-old.
He recalled that the outbreak of the disease had earlier been confirmed in Lagos, Kano, and Ondo states in January, adding that it triggered a national response by the National Centre for Disease (NCDC).
He explained that the outbreak of the infection in the FCT was confirmed after one of the results from the samples taken from suspected cases in a village close to Dei-Dei area, returned positive.
The director tasked residents on personal hygiene and advised them to report any strange symptoms, particularly one relating to their respiratory health to relevant authorities.
“Two weeks ago, we got information from a community within the FCT of eight cases and that made our team to pick some samples.
“The samples were taken to the National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa and the NCDC, and one of the suspected cases came out positive,” he said.
He explained that the department was collaborating with neighbouring states to checkmate further spread of the disease through border surveillance.
Also, the Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care Board (PHCB), Dr. Yahaya Vatsa, explained that unvaccinated people and those living in crowded and unhygienic environments were at high risk of contracting the disease.
Vatsa identified some of the symptoms as fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes, neck swelling, and difficulty breathing.
He said that the disease spreads through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing and contact with contaminated clothing and objects.
This, according to him, underscores the importance of hygiene and environmental sanitation as preventive measures.
“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.
“This is recommended in the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule,” he said.
The executive secretary said that the FCTA, through the PHCB had concluded plans to revaccinate all children below 14 years in the affected communities.
He said that six weeks to four year old children would receive Penta Vaccine, while children between four years and 14 years would receive Td vaccine.
He added that the board would intensify routine immunisation across the six Area Councils of the FCT and take immunization services to the doorstep of the people.
Vatsa advised individuals with any of the signs and symptoms to isolate themselves and notify the FCT Disease Surveillance Notification Officer or the Emergency Operation Center, through the FCT Call Center toll-free lines.
He said that close contacts with infected cases are being closely monitored with prophylactic antibiotics.
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