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Published On: Wed, Sep 4th, 2013

India: Diphtheria vaccination drive to commence in October in Andhra Pradesh

The government will begin a statewide diphtheria vaccination campaign in October after reports of four deaths among children and dozens of illnesses in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to a Times of India report Wednesday.

Child suffering from diphtheria   Image/CDC

Child suffering from diphtheria Image/CDC

According to the report, the vaccination drive will cover children below five years of age state-wide and should last for three months.

The decision follows the death of four children from the vaccine preventable bacterial disease and at least 60 others hospitalized.

Diphtheria, caused by a potent toxin produced by certain strains of the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae,  is extremely contagious through coughing or sneezing. Risk factors include crowding, poor hygiene, and lack of immunization.

Symptoms usually appear within a week of infection. This infection is characterized by a sore throat, coughing and fever very similar to many common diseases like strep throat. Additional symptoms may be bloody, watery discharge from the nose and rapid breathing. However, a presumptive diagnosis can be made by observing a characteristic thick grayish patch (membrane) found in the throat.

In more severe cases, neck swelling  and airway obstruction may be observed. In the tropics, cutaneus and wound diphtheria is much more common and can be a source of transmission.

The real serious danger is when the toxin that is produced by the bacterium gets into the bloodstream and spreads to organs like the heart and nervous system. Myocarditis, congestive heart failure and neurological illnesses of paralysis that mimic Guillain-Barre syndrome are most severe. Even with treatment, fatalities are still seen in up to 10% of cases.

Diphtheria can be treated and cured successfully with antitoxin and antibiotics if started early enough. The prevention of diphtheria is through vaccination.

According to the TOI, Hyderabad and the rest of the state have always reported high cases, with toll rising to 891 cases in 2006.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Diptheria | Find Me A Cure says:

    […] India: Diphtheria vaccination drive to commence in October in Andhra Pradesh […]

  2. India: Diphtheria vaccination drive to commence in October in Andhra Pradesh | Today Health Channel says:

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