ABUJA, Federal Capital Territory – The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has declared a state of emergency following the outbreak of Diphtheria in certain areas of Abuja. Dr. Sadiq Abdulrahman, the FCT Director of the Public Health Department, made the grim announcement during a press conference on Monday.
Diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection, has emerged as a significant public health concern. Dr. Abdulrahman revealed that the disease had tragically claimed the life of a four-year-old child, emphasizing the urgency of the situation. The outbreaks previously recorded, Ondo, and Kano states earlier this year have triggered a national response led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Diphtheria is caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which releases toxins that can lead to difficulty in breathing, heart rhythm problems, and potentially fatal complications. The FCT Director confirmed the outbreak after conducting tests on samples collected from suspected cases in a community near Dei-Dei. Among these cases, one individual tested positive for the bacteria, confirming the presence of Diphtheria in the area.
During the press conference, Dr. Abdulrahman stressed the importance of immediate reporting of any unusual symptoms, especially respiratory challenges, to the relevant health authorities. He also urged the public to maintain excellent personal hygiene practices, including regular handwashing and proper sanitation.
In response to the outbreak, the FCT health authorities are taking swift action to contain the spread of the disease. They are collaborating with neighboring states to strengthen border surveillance measures and enhance coordination in monitoring and managing the situation. This proactive approach aims to prevent the further transmission of Diphtheria and ensure that affected individuals receive timely medical attention.
Dr. Yahaya Vatsa, the Executive Secretary of the FCT Primary Health Care Board, cautioned that unvaccinated individuals living in crowded and unhygienic environments are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. He emphasized the crucial role of vaccination in protecting against Diphtheria and urged residents to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated in accordance with the National Childhood Immunization Schedule.
“To minimize the risk of infection, FCT residents are advised to ensure that their children receive all three doses of the pentavalent vaccine, as recommended by the National Childhood Immunization Schedule,” stated Dr. Vatsa.
Furthermore, individuals exhibiting any signs or symptoms associated with Diphtheria, such as a sore throat, swollen glands, or difficulty in breathing, are strongly advised to isolate themselves immediately. They should then notify the FCT Disease Surveillance Notification Officer or contact the Emergency Operation Center through the FCT Call Center’s toll-free lines.
Health authorities are working diligently to control the outbreak and prevent further spread of the disease. The FCT government, in collaboration with the NCDC, is implementing robust measures, including public health education campaigns, targeted vaccinations, and enhanced surveillance efforts.
As the situation evolves, it is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and adhere to the guidance provided by health officials. By practicing good personal hygiene, ensuring vaccination compliance, and promptly reporting any suspicious symptoms, the community can collectively contribute to curbing the spread of Diphtheria and protecting the health and well-being of all residents and beyond.