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Nigerian health officials have issued a public health advisory last week over a diphtheria outbreak in several states.

Image/Robert Herriman

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has responded to reports of diphtheria cases in Kano state where it is reported that no fewer than 25 persons in the state have been killed.

In addition, cases have been reported in Lagos, Osun and Yobe States.

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.

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The onset of signs and symptoms usually starts after 2 – 10 of exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms of diphtheria include: Fever, Runny nose,  Sore throat,  Cough, Red eyes (conjunctivitis), Neck swelling and in severe cases, a thick grey or white patch appears on the tonsils and/or at the back of the throat associated with difficulty breathing.

The Nigeria childhood immunization schedule recommends three (3) doses of pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine) are recommended for children in the 6th-, 10th- and 14th -week of life.

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