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Diphtheria in Algeria, Nigeria, Guinea, Niger and Mauritania

16 Nov 2023

On 29 October 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on the current diphtheria situation in African countries.

Algeria: On 3 August 2023, the Ministry of Health announced measures to contain a diphtheria outbreak in the south of the country. There have been 80 cases.

Nigeria: 4 160 suspected cases of diphtheria were reported from 27 states. Kano (3 233), Yobe (477), and Katsina (132) States have recorded most cases. A total of 137 deaths were recorded among confirmed cases.

Guinea: An outbreak of diphtheria has been ongoing  in the Kankan region since 4 July 2023. As of 4 October 2023, there have been 456 suspected cases including 57 deaths. Children aged 1-4 years are the group most affected. Nearly all cases have been reported from Siguiri District.

Niger: An outbreak of diphtheria was reported in Matameye health district, Zinder region on 17 July 2023. As of 23 October 2023, a total of 1690 suspected cases, including 75 deaths were reported from 20 health districts.

Mauritania: The Mauritanian Ministry of Health reported suspected cases of diphtheria on 19 October 2023. A total of 8 suspected cases, including 4 deaths, have been reported as of 29 October 2023.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection spread mainly through respiratory secretions from coughs and sneezes. It can cause severe difficulties with breathing. The infection can also affect the skin, causing ulcers. 

Advice for travellers

Travelling abroad can increase your risk of diphtheria.  Make sure you have completed the schedule of vaccines for life in the UK.

  • This means receiving 5 doses of a vaccine giving protection against diphtheria by the time you are a teenager.

If you have completed the national schedule of vaccines for life in the UK:

  • If it has been more than 10 years since your last diphtheria vaccine, you should get a booster dose before travelling to Nigeria.

To reduce your risk of becoming infected whilst travelling, you should also practice good respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene, especially when you are in or have recently been in overcrowded or busy places.

See the fitfortravel Diphtheria page for further information.