Published in: Today Digital
Author: Dr. Brunilda Rodríguez, Pediatrician, General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud.
Diphtheria is a preventable disease that continues to affect a percentage of the world's population and that in recent years has re-emerged in the Americas with cases in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in 2015 and 2016.
However, these are not the only countries affected. Brazil, Guatemala and Canada also reported cases of diphtheria. And in 2015, Spain also learned of a fatal case of diphtheria.
In the cases registered in the country during 2016, two children under three years of age, living in Santo Domingo, had the onset of diphtheria symptoms. One of them died. The presence of diphtheria-related bacteria was confirmed in the samples taken. In the minor deceased, the vaccination status is unknown and in the second case it is known that he had only one dose. In 2015, only one case of diphtheria was identified.
The situation in which a disease preventable by vaccination still generates cases of infection and even death may be worrying, but undoubtedly, due to the low incidence of the disease in recent years, it has lost its impact on the collective consciousness.
There are new cases for people who do not comply with the recommended vaccination schemes, allowing the reappearance of preventable diseases that were thought to be eradicated.
With the vaccine and the vaccination programs that we have today, diphtheria is really rare. In fact, there are no cases in countries that maintain a good vaccination program, because the vaccine works very well. It really requires serious instability and social crisis for the reappearance of the disease.
It is very contagious, as much as it can be the flu, it spreads through the air, so if someone with diphtheria coughs or sneezes could easily spread to others. However, it is very contagious only among the population that is not vaccinated.
Diphtheria is part of the vaccination scheme in children under one year of age.
The health agencies have asked the countries of America to strengthen immunization programs to eradicate this disease that is re-emerging in recent years.