The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 ‘Practice Enhanced Precautions’ advisory for travellers visiting Nigeria, in response to a recent outbreak of diphtheria in the country.
The CDC recommends that visitors to Nigeria should make sure that they are fully vaccinated against diphtheria prior to travel, and should ‘discuss the need for a booster dose with your healthcare professional’.
The agency clarified that: “All travellers two months and older travelling to outbreak areas should receive an age-appropriate dose of a diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine if they are not completely vaccinated, or if they have not received a booster dose within five years prior to departure.”
The CDC has provided a map of areas currently affected by the recent diphtheria outbreak.
According to specialist publication Outbreak News Today, Nigeria reported a total of 2,455 suspected diphtheria cases across 24 states between May 2022 and June 2023. The epicentre of the outbreak is Kano state, which has reported 2,171 cases – - alongside Yobe (95), Katsina (61), Lagos (29), the Federal Capital Territory (22), Sokoto (14) and Zamfara (13).
Of these suspected cases, just over a third (836) have been confirmed – with a total of 83 deaths recorded among all confirmed cases.
Take precautions when visiting Nigeria
The CDC also recommended that travellers take a number of precautions to avoid becoming infected with the disease, including:
- Avoid contact with persons with symptoms of diphtheria, such as fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, change in voice, shortness of breath, weakness, or fatigue
- Avoid touching the wounds of others
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands with soap and water often
- If you feel sick during travel, seek medical care immediately
- If potentially exposed to the disease and either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, immediately start treatment with antitoxin vaccines and antibiotics
- If you feel sick while when returning from travel, seek medical care immediately – tell your healthcare professional about your diphtheria vaccination status and recent travel, including where you went and what you did.