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Diphtheria Outbreak Response Update: Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh - Update #1 (20 December 2017)

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  • As of 19 December 2017, a total of 1841 cases suspected with diphtheria have been reported, of whom 109 presented at the treating health facilities on 19 December 2017. A total of 22 deaths have been recorded so far.

  • Vaccination started in Ukhia and Teknaf on 12 December for children under 7 with pentavalent, pneumococcal, and bivalent oral polio vaccines and on 17 December for children from 7 up to 15 years with tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine.

  • The current outbreak is mainly occurring within the displaced Rohingya population living in the Balukali makeshift and extension camps. Cases are also being reported from the Kutupalong extension, Thangkhali, Jamtoli, and Nyapara camps. This population is also affected by malnutrition, low routine immunization coverage, and poor access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

  • Strengthening case-management capacity, contact tracing, provision of chemoprophylaxis, immunization against diphtheria covering a wide age range combined with clear health messaging are key to reducing the spread and impact of this outbreak.

  • A diphtheria core committee chaired by the Civil Surgeon of Cox’s Bazar, has been formalized with WHO facilitation. Key tasks such as epidemiology, case management, risk communication, laboratory confirmation, vaccination, and logistics are being coordinated by the sub-groups of this core committee.

  • The Director General of Health Service, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh visited Cox’s bazar and the camps for three days to take stock of the situation and direct concerted clinical and public health operations to manage the outbreak.