Outbreak News Today

Diphtheria cases rise in Yemen, Bangladesh


World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic announced today that the diphtheria case count in war-torn Yemen has risen to 471 cases , killing 46 since mid-August 2016.

This child with diphtheria presented with a characteristic swollen neck, sometimes referred to as “bull neck”. Image/CDC

“The overall case fatality ratio is 10 percent,” he said.

The hardest hit Yemeni provinces include Ibb and Hudaydah.

The diphtheria outbreak is just one portion of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world brought on by more than 1,000 days of war in Yemen.

In a joint statement by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and WFP Executive Director David Beasley they noted: “Some 75 per cent of Yemen’s population are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million children who cannot survive without it. At least 60 per cent of Yemenis are now food insecure and 16 million people do not have access to safe water and proper sanitation. Many more lack access to basic health services. Less than half of Yemen’s health facilities are fully functional and medical staff have gone months without being paid their salaries.

“This horrific tally of the conflict’s devastation reflects only what we know. In reality, the situation is likely to be worse.”

10 Most Important Infectious Disease Stories of 2017: Outbreak News Today


In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, between 8 November and 31 December, 28 deaths and 3014 suspected cases of diphtheria have been reported primarily from the Rohingya population.

The vaccine preventable disease is re-emerging in Bangladesh, where more than 655,000 Rohingya have sought refuge since 25 August, following increased violence in Myanmar.

WHO has released US$1.5 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to scale up response to diphtheria outbreak among Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, over the next six months.

Diphtheria: A short history, the disease, treatment and the success of the vaccines