ARS Reunion reports four cases of diphtheria on the island since the beginning of the year– a teenager and three adults over the age of 55 who have not travelled.
Typically, the ARS Réunion records an average of 2 cases per year, in people who had traveled to a risk area shortly before the declaration of their symptoms.
Autochthonous circulation is therefore suspected.
Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make toxin (poison). Infection can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, kidney failure, paralysis, and even death.
Diphtheria skin infections are more common in tropical areas. They are not usually severe. However, people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against diphtheria can develop serious respiratory diphtheria after touching the skin sores of someone with diphtheria skin infection.
In Reunion, vaccination against diphtheria is mandatory in infants. The primary vaccination of infants consists of two injections at the age of 2 and 4 months, followed by a booster at the age of 11 months.
Beyond this compulsory primary vaccination for young children, several boosters are recommended throughout life, at 6 years old, then 12 years old, 25 years old, 45 years old, 65 years old then every 10 years at over 65 years old.
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