Two fresh cases of diphtheria have been reported from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. This comes weeks after 10 children who had contracted diphtheria were admitted to the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) in July.
A 16-year-old boy and another man were both admitted to CMCH and had tested positive for diphtheria on Wednesday. Around 50 patients have currently been admitted to the hospital with suspected diphtheria.
“The reason we are seeing such an influx of cases now has to do with the lack of immunisation. Several people, we’ve noticed, did not receive the vaccination either at a young age and several had not received a booster dose they were required to take at an early age,” says Dr K Kolandaswamy, Deputy Director of Public Health (DDPH).
Earlier in July, two children from the outskirts of Coimbatore lost their lives after contracting diphtheria.
After the initial cases of diphtheria were confirmed, health department officials in the state began undertaking immunisation campaigns throughout the state for both adults and children to ensure that there was better immunity among the community.
The vaccine is supposed to be given at one-and-a-half months of age, then again at two-and-a-half months, and then a final dose at three-and-a-half months of age. As a precautionary measure, officials began vaccinating adults and children in the area surrounding Sathyamangalam forest, where several people were found to have the disease.
Diphtheria is a disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae and is extremely contagious. The infection affects the throat, airways and respiratory system but can also affect several other organs. It spreads from one individual to another via droplets in the air. While children are prone to contracting the infection, it can be seen in adults as well, which is why adults too are being vaccinated at this point. The vaccine for diphtheria has been found to be extremely effective.