Diphtheria Outbreak in Abuja: FCTA Urges Immediate Vaccination Amid Growing Concerns

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Abuja, Nigeria – The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has issued an urgent warning as a diphtheria outbreak grips Abuja, causing widespread alarm and necessitating swift action. With one fatality already reported, health authorities are urging residents to promptly avail themselves of the Pentavalent vaccine, as the highly contagious disease continues to pose a significant threat to public health.

The announcement was made during a press conference addressed by Dr. Sadiq Abdulraman, the Director of Public Health. Dr. Abdulraman emphasized the crucial role of vaccination in breaking the spread of the disease, explaining that diphtheria is a preventable infection of the nose and throat through the administration of the vaccine.

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Diphtheria manifests in patients as a thick, grey membrane covering the back of the throat, leading to breathing difficulties. The disease spreads primarily through airborne respiratory droplets, such as coughs or sneezes, as well as through direct contact with saliva, such as kissing or sharing drinks.

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Tragically, the outbreak has claimed the life of a four-year-old child in the Deidei District of the FCT, out of a total of eight recorded cases. Samples taken from suspected cases in a nearby village have confirmed the presence of the disease. Within the affected household, some individuals have tested positive, with an infant of about four years succumbing to the illness. These distressing events underscore the urgent need for immediate intervention.

Dr. Abdulraman urged residents to prioritize personal hygiene and promptly report any unusual symptoms, particularly those related to respiratory health. The FCTA acted swiftly upon receiving information about the suspected cases, conducting tests at the National Reference Laboratory Gaduwa and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Out of the eight suspected cases, one was confirmed positive.

It is important to note that earlier this year, the disease had already been identified in three states across the country—Lagos, Kano, and Ondo. A national alert was issued in response, prompting coordinated efforts from the NCDC and other stakeholders to address the outbreak.

Dr. Yahaya Vatsa, the Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Health Care, emphasized that the unvaccinated and individuals living in crowded areas with poor sanitation face the highest risk. Recognizing the symptoms of diphtheria, including fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes, neck swelling, and breathing difficulties, Dr. Vatsa stressed the significance of personal hygiene and environmental sanitation in preventing the spread of the disease.

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To mitigate the risk of contracting diphtheria, residents of the FCT are strongly advised to ensure their children receive the recommended three doses of the pentavalent vaccine, as outlined in the National Childhood Immunization Schedule. The FCTA has initiated an extensive vaccination drive across Abuja, aiming to reach all vulnerable individuals within the community.

The diphtheria outbreak in Abuja highlights the critical importance of timely vaccination and the need for a robust public health infrastructure. As the FCTA takes proactive measures to curb the spread of the disease, it is imperative for residents to heed the call for vaccination and prioritize personal hygiene practices to protect themselves and the wider community.

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