By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials in Karachi, Pakistan have reported five deaths in children over the past 15 days due to vaccine-preventable diseases.

The News reports at least three children have died due to diphtheria while tetanus has claimed two lives.


“We have so far admitted 11 confirmed cases of diphtheria, a life-threatening and highly contagious disease, during the last two weeks, of whom three expired while eight are still undergoing treatment in the isolation ward at our health facility,” said Prof Jamal Raza, an eminent paediatrician and director of the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Karachi.

Prof Raza added that they had received five children with tetanus, of whom two children expired, two were undergoing treatment at the health facility while one was discharged upon recovery.

Diphtheria is an acute bacterial infection of respiratory system which can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms, develop 2 – 5 days after infection, include fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands in the neck. Severe illness presents with swollen neck and thick gray or white patch of dead tissue in the throat and tonsils caused by the bacterial toxin.

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Complications are blocking of the airway and absorption of the toxin into the blood stream that may cause damage to the heart, kidneys and peripheral nerves and thus can lead to death. The severely ill patient must visit a hospital for a special medical care immediately to save life.

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Diphtheria is spread from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, from coughing, sneezing and close contact. A person can also get infected by contacting with shared utensils contaminated with the bacteria. Some mild cases can transmit the bacteria to people around them. Recovered patients might not develop immunity against the disease.

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The best way to prevent diphtheria is to get vaccinated.

Tetanus is not transmitted person to person but rather caused by bacteria found in soil and human and animal faeces entering the body through cuts and open wounds.

Symptoms include painful muscle spasms, initially of the muscles of the neck and jaw (lockjaw), and later of torso muscles.