By: Wisdom Acka & Damilola Adeleke
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on Monday raised alarm over breakout of diphtheria disease in parts of the Territory.
Director, FCT Public Health Department, Dr. Sadiq Abdulrahman, while breaking news of the outbreak in a press briefing on Monday, added that the bacteria disease has already claimed the life of a four-year old boy.
According to him, samples taken from eight suspected cases in Tungan-Wakili community in Dei-dei, suburb of Abuja, returned with one positive case, while one life was sadly lost even before the results came back.
He further explained: “Two weeks ago, we got information from a community within the FCT of about eight suspected cases which triggered our team to pick some samples which were taken to the National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa and the NCDC. As at Friday afternoon, the results came out. Out of the eight suspected cases, one came out positive”.
“Precisely in January this year, a national alert was sent out on the outbreak of Diptheria in about three states, Lagos, Kano and Ondo respectively,” said.
“That triggered a national response and the NCDC which is the flagship of disease outbreak and response in the country, sent out a letter to all the States the FCT”, he added.
Abdulrahman also explained that Diptheria is a bacteria targets upper respiratory system, and it is transmitted from person to person through coughing and touching of contaminated objects, like car handles, and doors, among others.
He stated that the disease is characterized by common symptoms such as fever, running nose, swollen of legs, coughing and bullneck, which can choke and kill.
The Director remarked that the FCT Administration has made vaccines available at over 400 centres in its primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities across the Territory.
On his part, Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Health Care, Dr. Yahaya Isah Vatsa, disclosed that people most vulnerable to Diptheria were those who did not get required vaccination.
Vatsa listed more symptoms of the disease, including sore throat, red eyes and difficulty in breathing.
“Diphtheria spreads easily between people through direct contact with infected people, droplets from coughing or sneezing and contact with contaminated clothing and objects, thereby underscoring the importance of hygiene and environmental sanitation in the prevention,” Vatsa reiterated.
“To reduce the risk of contracting the disease, FCT residents are hereby advised to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated with three (3) doses of the pentavalent vaccine as recommended in the National Childhood Immunization schedule,” he said.
“The FCTA through the Primary Health Care Board has concluded plans to revaccinate all children 14 years and below in the affected community with the appropriate vaccines, irrespective of their previous vaccination status,” he revealed.
“Individuals with any of the signs and symptoms suggestive of diphtheria should isolate themselves and notify the FCT Disease Surveillance Notification Officer (DSNO), and/or the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) through our FCT Call Center toll-free lines,” he maintained.
“Close contacts with the confirmed case of diphtheria are being closely monitored with prophylactic antibiotics”, he explained.
Vatsa also stated that symptoms of Diptheria were similar to those of COVID-19, even as he stressed: “Emphasis is that people should go for vaccination” and advised: “Go back to personal hygiene”, including frequent washing of hands, among others.