Infectious disease pediatrician Nathaly Brito confirmed last week that the vaccine-preventable disease, diphtheria, has killed some 19 children at the pediatric hospital Menca de Leoni, in the state of Bolívar, since its reappearance in 2016, according to a Efecto Cocuyo report (computer translated).

“Since the disease reappeared in June 2016 through April 2018, 121 cases of diphtheria have been registered in the hospital. The reemergence of diphtheria grabbed us off base,” explained Brito from the XIII Infectology Congress last week.

Brito said that 14 of the 19 patients died from myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle), the main cause of death from diphtheria, and had cardiovascular complications due to the disease.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

Most of the patients diagnosed with diphtheria were pre-school and school age and all lacked the vaccine or had not completed enough doses to be protected.

In the PAHO Epidemiological bulletin released on May 24 of this year, the regional body warned that the diphtheria outbreak that began in July 2016 is still active and indicated that up to that date 1,086 cases were confirmed by laboratory or by epidemiological link, including 160 deaths.

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