Jutha Gupah, Maiduguri

July 19, 2023.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that special attention be paid to the immunization of heath care workers exposed to diphtheria.

According to the UN health Agency, healthcare workers may be at greater risk of contracting diphtheria than the general population.

Unveiling diphtheria preventive measures, yesterday (Wednesday), in Maiduguri, Borno state, the WHO Northeast Emergency Manager, Beatrice Muraguri, disclosed: “Diphtheria spreads easily among people by direct contact or through what she described as; “The air through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.”

She added that disease could also be spread by contaminated clothing and objects.

“In severe cases of diphtheria, the bacteria produces a poison (toxin) in patients that causes a thick grey or white patch at the back of a throat,” she warned.

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She stated that diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium (Corynebacterium diphtheria) with symptoms of severe fever and sore throat.

“The signs and symptoms usually start two-three days, after exposure and range from mild to severe infection,” she said.

Muraguri, therefore, warned that the patch can block the airway, making it hard to breathe or swallow, including the creation of a barking cough.

Continued; “The neck may swell in part due to enlarged lymph nodes of diphtheria patients, mostly children below the age of five,

On how diphtheria affects patients’ organs, the Emergency Manager,  Muraguri, declared; “The poison may also get into the blood stream of patients causing complications that may include inflammation and damage of the heart muscle.”

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According to her, other organ-damaging effects comprise the inflammation of nerves, kidney and bleeding problems due to low blood platelets.

She noted that the damaged heart muscles may could lead to an abnormal heart rate and inflammation of the nerves, warning that it may result into paralysis of diphtheria patients.

Besides, she added that the disease spreads easily among people by direct contact or through what Muraguri described as; “The air though respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.”

She noted that it may also be spread by contaminated clothing and other objects.

On treatments of diphtheria, she said: “Diphtheria infection is treated with the administration of a diphtheria antitoxin, administered intravenously or through an intramuscular injection. Antibiotics, she added are also given to eliminate the bacteria and toxin production, so as to prevent transmission of disease to others.

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She said as prevention is better than cure, all children worldwide, including the Northeast should be immunized against diphtheria.

The WHO stated: “A three-dose primary series during infancy is the foundation for building lifelong immunity to diphtheria.

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