Three children died in Balochistan’s Dukki district after being diagnosed with diphtheria infection on Sunday. Nine more children are said to be affected by the disease in the district.
What is Diphtheria?
Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Signs and symptoms usually start 2 – 5 days after exposure and range from mild to severe. Symptoms often come on gradually, beginning with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, the bacteria produces a poison (toxin) that causes a thick grey or white patch at the back of throat. This can block the airway making it hard to breathe or swallow and also create a barking cough. The neck may swell in part due to enlarged lymph nodes.
The poison may also get into the blood stream causing complications that may include inflammation and damage of the heart muscle, inflammation of nerves, kidney problems, and bleeding problems due to low blood platelets. The damaged heart muscles may result in an abnormal heart rate and inflammation of the nerves may result in paralysis.
How is diphtheria spread?
Diphtheria, is a contagious disease which spreads easily between people by direct contact or through the air though respiratory droplets, like from coughing or sneezing. It may also be spread by contaminated clothing and objects.
How is diphtheria diagnosed?
Clinical diagnosis of diphtheria usually relies on the presence of a grayish membrane covering the throat. Although laboratory investigation of suspected cases is recommended for case confirmation, treatment should be started immediately.
Why is diphtheria taking life of people in Pakistan?
According to the district health officer Dr Abdul Aleem Nasir, the children had died because the vaccine for the infection wasn’t available.