Diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria: What do we know so far?

Document Type : Letter to the Editor


1 Department of Microbiology, Federal University Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, Nigeria

2 Department of Microbiology, Federal University Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, Nigeria. Department of Biomedical Science, Nazarbayev University School Medicine, Astana, Kazakhstan

3 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences, Al-Qalam University Katsina, Nigeria


Since January, Nigeria has experienced an outbreak of diphtheria cases in the two largest and most commercially active states, Lagos and Kano. Yobe and Osun states are also being closely monitored by health authorities. About 25 fatalities have been reported in Kano state alone, with several others hospitalized. Additionally, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has also reported 78 suspected cases of extremely dangerous bacterial illness in 14 local councils in Kano State. It is important to note that while Kano and Yobe states are in the country's northern region, Osun and Lagos are in the southern region, indicating the potential for the outbreak to spread across the entire country if not promptly contained. Diphtheria is caused by Corynebacterium species. After 2-10 exposures to the bacteria, symptoms such as fever, runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis, and neck swelling may appear. In some cases, a thick, grey, or white patch may form on the tonsils or back of the throat, making it difficult to breathe. People at risk of contracting diphtheria include those who have not received all doses of the pentavalent vaccine, those living in crowded or unsanitary conditions, healthcare workers, and those in close contact with suspected or confirmed cases of diphtheria. To effectively address these outbreaks, a comprehensive approach is crucial, incorporating thorough analysis, innovative strategies, and global health perspectives. We call upon all relevant stakeholders to act swiftly and collaboratively to curtail the devastating impacts of these diseases.


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