In July 2016, Venezuela reported it’s first diphtheria case since the 1990s. While the health minister, Luisana Melo attempted to deny the outbreak at the time, the numbers don’t lie.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

Since mid-2016 through the beginning of 2019, Venezuela has seen over 2,500 suspected cases and 1,500 gave been confirmed.

In addition, tragically, some 270 people died from the very pathogenic vaccine-preventable disease.

The diphtheria outbreak is ongoing. As of the beginning of this year, there were 8 federal entities and 20 municipalities with 21 parishes reporting cases, according to the PAHO.

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Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Vaccines are recommended for infants, children, teens and adults to prevent diphtheria.