5 Things You Need To Know About Diphtheria And How It Spreads
It can spread even when you do not show symptoms.
Vaccination has become a topic of heated debate in Malaysia, especially after several recent cases of diphtheria
The debate has been centred around whether vaccines in Malaysia are considered halal or not.
Recent reports revealed that several parents did not vaccinate their children because of religious reasons.
Last Thursday, 21 February, a two-year-old boy in Johor Bahru, who was never vaccinated since birth, was suspected to have passed away from severe diphtheria.
Yesterday, 24 February, another five children tested positive for having the bacterial infection, including the deceased boy's sister, New Straits Times reported.
Since 2018, nineteen diphtheria cases have been reported to date, including six deaths. Out of the six deaths, five of the victims did not receive immunisation.
1. Diphtheria is a bacterial infection, which often starts with a sore throat
The name of the bacteria, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, forms a whitish or greyish layer in the throat and tonsils.
It can cause kidney damage, heart damage, and nerve damage, eventually ending in death.
Warning: Graphic image ahead.
2. Individuals who do not have up-to-date immunisations have a higher risk of getting infected
Lack of vaccination in children under five years old may cause the infection. It is especially dangerous for those below 15 years old.
People living in crowded or unsanitary conditions or anyone who travels to an area where diphtheria is endemic are also susceptible.
3. The infection can spread through saliva, sweat, and droplets breathed out into the air
According to the Ministry of Health Malaysia, respiratory droplets from sneezing, coughing, and talking can spread diphtheria.
Touching contaminated items like an infected person's used tissues or toys and other household items, can also spread the infection.
4. Some of its symptoms include: sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, fever, and swollen glands
5. Getting vaccinated can lower the risk of getting diphtheria
You can prevent it by making sure your immunisations are up-to-date. Children are especially urged to receive their recommended vaccinations to maintain immunity, said Director-General of Health Malaysia Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
However, in advanced stages, diphtheria can be deadly even with medical treatment.
Following the debate on whether vaccines are halal, the Ministry of Health is considering making vaccinations compulsory:
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