Health professionals asked to remain vigilant on suspected Diphtheria cases

ISLAMABAD, Jan 25 (APP):The National Institute of Health (NIH) has asked health professionals to remain vigilant in picking up suspected Corynebacterium Diphtheria cases and to undertake prevention and control measures during the winter season.

According to the advisory issued by the NIH’s Center for Disease Control for the prevention and treatment of Corynebacterium Diphtheria, sporadic cases of Diphtheria are mainly reported in Pakistan from November to February while in the year 2022, there were 26 laboratory-confirmed cases reported from all across the country.

It said that Diphtheria is a potentially life-threatening bacterial disease caused by infection with toxin-producing strains of Corynebacterium Diphtheriae. It is transmitted usually from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.

While informing about the probable cases, the advisory said that any person who meets the clinical case definition for respiratory diphtheria like upper respiratory tract illness characterized by laryngitis or pharyngitis or tonsillitis and a visible adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, or nose and without epidemiological linkage and laboratory confirmation.

It added any confirmed case is a probable case that has been laboratory confirmed or linked epidemiologically to a laboratory-confirmed case. Persons with positive Corynebacterium Diphtheriae culture, but asymptomatic, should not be reported as suspected or confirmed cases. The advisory said that Diphtheria is transmitted from person to person, with skin lesions usually through respiratory droplets (coughing or sneezing).

The infection may come in contact or touching open sores (skin lesions) and material objects (toys or clothes) used by the person who already is sick with diphtheria. The incubation period is usually 2-5 days, occasionally longer while the bacteriological culture and PCR can be used to detect toxigenic strains of C. diphtheria which is a standard test for confirmation specimen collection.

It said that persons should immediately start the treatment if diphtheria is suspected without waiting for laboratory confirmation. It added Diphtheria patients are usually kept in isolation untiI they are no longer able to infect others.