By NewsDesk   @bactiman63

Health officials in Sudan are reporting an outbreak of diphtheria that began in August. From that time to date, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) Sudan has seen a total of 63 suspected diphtheria cases with 11 associated deaths (CFR 17.46%) are reported from six states, according to a WHO Weekly Epidemiological Monitor published last week.

Sudan map/CIA

Of the 63 cases, 57 cases with 9 deaths are reported from Al-Sunta locality of South Darfur state alone. 83% of the total (52) were not vaccinated against diphtheria.

According to the report, Sudan has a very high immunization coverage for DPT3 93% – 2018 and it has never reported such number of diphtheria cases in the past. But the reporting of cluster cases from Al-Sunta locality South Darfur is an alarming sign as most of the cases from the locality were un-vaccinated, whereas the national average for DPT3 coverage is significantly high from last five years (>92%).

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Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial disease that primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs. The disease has an acute onset and can result in low grade fever, difficulty in breathing, swollen glands in the neck and the toxin, in severe cases, may cause heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Transmission occurs from person to person through close respiratory and physical fluid contact. Diphtheria is fatal in 5-10% of the cases, with a high mortality rate in young children. Vaccinations are available and recommended for its prevention.