COVID-hit Peru says diphtheria outbreak under controlFriday, November 06, 2020
LIMA, Peru (AFP)— Peru's health ministry said Friday that a diphtheria outbreak in the South American country had been brought under control, indicating it was a minor outbreak.
Health authorities launched a national epidemiological alert late last month after detecting the country's first case of the deadly disease in 20 years.
"So far, the investigation and control allows us to say that no additional cases to the family outbreak have been identified," deputy health minister Luis Suarez told a press conference.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that mainly affects the nose and throat but sometimes also the skin.
Five cases of the disease came to light in the La Victoria area of the capital Lima.
Two of the victims died, including a five-year-old girl who had been vaccinated at birth but never received programed follow-up vaccinations that would have immunized her for a decade.
The second victim, a 69-year-old woman, died on Wednesday, but health authorities said she had not been contagious.
An emergency vaccination campaign in the area where the child lived let to 7,000 people receiving vaccinations, the ministry said.
"We hope that with the vaccination of the 7,000 people, the outbreak in La Victoria is contained," Suarez said.
"There is no reason to generate a national alarm, nor is it necessary to carry out a specific vaccination day for diphtheria at this time," he said.
Peru is however planning vaccinations against five diseases this weekend, to resume a campaign suspended by the coronavirus pandemic. Among the vaccines are those for diphtheria and influenza.
The World Health Organization warned several months ago that the coronavirus pandemic has had a "devastating impact" on health care systems in Latin America and the Caribbean, where many health services have been overwhelmed and unable to care properly for people with other illnesses and problems.
Peru has registered over 900,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 34,700 deaths, although its daily infection and death rates have been steadily decreasing over the last two months.
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