Diphtheria (pronounced dip-THEE-ree-uh) is a serious bacterial infection that primarily affects the respiratory system, but can also affect other areas of the body such as the skin. The disease is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which produces a toxin that can cause severe damage to the body’s tissues.
The infection is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by direct contact with an infected person’s skin or throat discharge. People who are in close proximity to an infected person, such as family members or healthcare workers, are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
The most common symptoms of diphtheria include a sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. In severe cases, the bacteria can produce a thick, gray membrane in the throat, which can make it difficult to breathe. This membrane can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the nose, larynx, or trachea.
Diphtheria can have serious complications, such as heart and nerve damage, and can even lead to death. The risk of complications and death is higher in young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, has confirmed the outbreak of diphtheria disease has killed at least 35 persons in the country. Dr Adetifa said this during a programme on Arise Television on Friday night.
The NCDC had in an advisory issued on Friday said it had responded to reports of diphtheria cases in Lagos and Kano States and was monitoring the situation in Osun and Yobe States where cases are now being picked up.
The best way to prevent diphtheria is through vaccination. The diphtheria vaccine is typically given as part of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) or Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine. The vaccine is usually given to children as part of a series of shots, with boosters given later in life to maintain immunity.
It’s important to note that vaccination is not only important for the individual but also for the community as it creates herd immunity, making it less likely for the disease to spread even if a person is not vaccinated.
If you suspect that you or someone you know has diphtheria, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Antibiotics can be used to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading to others. In addition, people who have been in close contact with someone who has diphtheria may also need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent them from becoming infected.
It’s also important to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of diphtheria. This includes washing your hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Avoiding crowded places, and staying home if you are feeling unwell are also ways to prevent the spread of the disease.
In conclusion, Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that primarily affects the respiratory system, but can also affect other areas of the body. It can cause serious complications and even death. The best way to prevent diphtheria is through vaccination, and if you suspect that you or someone you know has diphtheria, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Good hygiene practice is also very important in preventing the spread of the disease. It’s important to keep in mind that vaccination not only protects the individual but also the community and it’s necessary for herd immunity.