The Malaysia Ministry of Health (MOH) recently reported (computer translated) the death of a 2 1/2 year old child from Miri, Sarawak from suspected diphtheria. The child was never vaccinated as the parents said it was against their religious beliefs.
In 2017, 32 cases of diphtheria were reported throughout Malaysia with 7 (22 percent) deaths. The majority (75percent) of these cases and deaths are from communities that refuse to be vaccinated.
Health officials remind the public that if children are vaccinated against diphtheria, they can be infected with Corynebacterium diphtheria bacteria that are spread through respiratory droplets and inflammation of the throat. These bacteria will produce toxins that cause inflammation around the throat and neck swelling which can cause these children to breathe hard. This toxin can also absorb into the blood, disabling nerves and causing heart inflammation (myocarditis). Diphtheria infection has a very high mortality rate.
Parents and societies are encouraged to ensure that children under the age of 7 are given complete immunization. If you have missed the date, or have not received complete vaccination, immediately go to the nearest health facility to get your vaccination. MOH would like to remind you if there are any signs and symptoms such as fever, sore throat / swallowing difficulties, or neck swelling, immediately see your doctor for treatment.