HomeNewsHealthDiphtheria Outbreak: Kano confirms 100 suspected cases, 3 deaths

Diphtheria Outbreak: Kano confirms 100 suspected cases, 3 deaths


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The Kano State Ministry of Health has recorded 100 suspected cases of diphtheria in 13 local government areas of the state.

Out of the total, eight cases were confirmed, and three of the confirmed victims lost their lives.

Dr Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, Kano State Commissioner for Health, revealed this while briefing reporters on the recent outbreaks of diphtheria and lassa fever diseases.

Daily News 24 reports that the outbreak of the disease has continued to pose a threat to the general populace and is becoming an additional burden on the health system.

According to the Commissioner for Health, an investigation has been launched since the first case of diphtheria was confirmed on November 30, 2022.

Kano Health Officials at the Diphtheria and Lassa Fever Press Briefing Held at ENC Unit

As of January 20, 2023, the state had recorded 100 suspected cases of diphtheria from thirteen local government areas of the state.

Out of the total, eight cases were confirmed, and three of the confirmed victims lost their lives.

“As at 20th of January, we have recorded 100 suspected cases from 13 LGAs of Ungoggo, Nassarawa, Bichi, Dala, Dawakin Kudu, Fagge, Gwale, Kano Municipal, Kumbotso, and Rano, Dawakin Tofa, and Gwarzo respectively. 

“Of the 100 suspected cases, 8 were confirmed, while awaiting more results. We have lost 3 among the 8 confirmed, and 22 among other suspected cases. Currently, 27 patients are on admission receiving treatment while 41 have been managed and discharged successfully.” Dr Tsanyawa said.

Kano sets treatment center

The Kano State Commissioner for Health also stated that a diphtheria treatment center to check the spread of the disease had been set up.

Diphtheria, an acute toxic infection caused by Corynebacterium species, spreads from person to person through droplets in the air and by touching soiled clothes or objects.

From mild to severe, symptoms include fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat, swelling in the neck, and trouble breathing.

Dr Tsanyawa asked parents to make sure their kids are fully immunized so that the disease doesn’t spread.

Kano confirms four cases of Lassa fever

Similarly, the state commissioner of health, Dr Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa had stated that four cases of lassa fever are currently being managed at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Isolation Center.

“Similarly, on the 10th of January, the PHEOC also received a report of suspected case of Lassa fever from MAWTH, team was deployed to investigate, sample was taken for laboratory testing, and 3 days later, the result turned positive for Lassa fever. 

“The patient was evacuated to an isolation center in AKTH, the PHEOC called for an emergency meeting during which the Lassa Fever Technical Working Group ( LF TWG) was established, state RRT was deployed, contacts were line listed, categorized and are being followed up. 

“Of the 10 samples taken from the high-risk contacts of the index case, 3 became positive, making a total of 4 cases currently managed at the AKTH Isolation Center.

“The index case is a 26-year-old businessman in Taraba State, where he started developing symptoms and later came back to Kano State his home town where he visited several facilities (MA WTH, MMSH, Urology, Union Diagnostic center and Dala nursing care.” The commissioner stated.

Things to know about Diphtheria disease and how to stay safe

In Nigeria, the burden of diphtheria is underestimated due to the limited capacity for laboratory confirmation and inadequate surveillance, the country’s national public health institute said.


Diphtheria bacteria spread from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, like from coughing or sneezing. People can also get sick from touching infected clothes, objects, or open sores.

Risk factors

People who are at increased risk of contracting diphtheria are children and adults who have not received any or a single dose of the pentavalent vaccine (a diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine).

Others at risk are people who live in a crowded environment, people who live in areas with poor sanitation, healthcare workers, and others who are exposed to suspected or confirmed cases of diphtheria.

Signs and symptoms

The onset of signs and symptoms usually starts after two to 10 days of exposure to the bacteria.

The symptoms of the infectious disease include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and neck swelling.

“In severe cases, a thick grey or white patch appears on the tonsils and/or at the back of the throat associated with difficulty breathing,” the NCDC said.
Left untreated, diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart damage, and nerve damage.

Experts say if the diphtheria toxin damages the nerves that help control muscles used in breathing, these muscles may become paralysed.

Prevention, Treatment

The NCDC said the Nigeria childhood immunisation schedule recommends three doses of the pentavalent vaccine for children in the 6th, 10th, and 14th week of life.

The World Health Organisation said vaccination against diphtheria had reduced the mortality and morbidity of diphtheria dramatically, however, diphtheria is still a significant child health problem in countries with poor routine childhood immunisation coverage.

“Diphtheria vaccine is a bacterial toxoid, ie. a toxin whose toxicity has been inactivated. The vaccine is normally given in combination with other vaccines, including tetanus and pertussis (e.g. DTwP/DTaP, pentavalent vaccine).

“For adolescents and adults, the diphtheria toxoid is frequently combined with tetanus toxoid in lower concentration (Td vaccine).

“WHO recommends a three-dose primary vaccination series with diphtheria containing vaccine followed by three booster doses. The primary series should begin as early as six-week of age with subsequent doses given with a minimum interval of four weeks between doses. The three booster doses should preferably be given during the second year of life (12-23 months), at four to seven years, and nine to 15 years of age.

“Ideally, there should be at least four years between booster doses,” the UN body said.

An infectious disease expert at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr Iorhen Akase said, “As a country, the most important thing to do is to increase the vaccination rate because the DPT vaccine is one of the vaccines given to children in the immunisation schedule.

“The disease is one of the childhood diseases and it can kill, it can cause paralysis. The symptoms range from sore throat, and difficulty with breathing and that can kill. Of course, it is not on the same scale with Lassa fever or Ebola virus disease but it happens sporadically, and adults are at risk too.”

NCDC’s advice to Nigerians

To reduce the risk of diphtheria, the NCDC offers the following advice:

  1. Parents should ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with three doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the childhood immunisation schedule.
  2. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria i.e., be vigilant and look out for symptoms of diphtheria.
  3. Individuals with signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify the local government area, state disease surveillance officer, or the NCDC through our toll-free line (6232).
  4. Close contacts with a confirmed case of diphtheria should be closely monitored given antibiotics prophylaxis and started on diphtheria antitoxin treatment when indicated.
  5. All healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, support staff, etc.) with higher exposure to cases of diphtheria should be vaccinated against diphtheria.


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