THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is calling on parents to protect their children and have them vaccinated against diphtheria to prevent an outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to a fact sheet distributed by the department, diphtheria is a serious disease caused by a toxin made by bacteria. It causes a thick coating in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow.
Diphtheria starts with a sore throat, mild fever and chills. Next there is swelling of the throat, followed by the diphtheria toxin making a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat and swelling of the neck. It might be white or greyish. The coating makes it hard to breathe or swallow.
The bacteria spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can spread the disease for up to two weeks after infection.
Diphtheria can be prevented through the vaccination of children with the diphtheria vaccine in combination with other vaccines (Pentavalent/Hexavalent) at the age of six weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks, 18 months, TD vaccine as a booster dose at six years and 12 years. The vaccine is available free in all clinics. Doctors recommend that all children get the vaccine.
Any person who is not vaccinated against the disease can get it. Diphtheria mostly affects children, but any age group can be affected. Should any symptoms appear, go to the nearest clinic for an assessment. - Supplied