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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Diptheria in Venezuela

07 Aug 2017

Cases of diphtheria in Venezuela continue to increase in number. The National Epidemiology Network and the Venezuelan Public Health Society blame this on shortage of vaccine and medical supplies as well as failure of public health policies. They urge the Ministry of Health to publish official epidemiological information which has not been updated for 8 months.

Since September 2016 there have been 447 suspected cases of diphtheria since September 2016 of which 123 were reported in 2017.

The states affected are Bolivar (282 cases), Anzoategui (37), Miranda (29), Monagas (26), Apure (19), Sucre (10), Capital District (9), Zulia (8), Cojedes (6), Vargas (5), Yaracuy (4), Merida (3), Trujillo (3), Barinas (2), Portuguesa (2), Carabobo (1), and Nueva Esparta (1). The number of deaths is uncertain, although the estimated number was more than 40 in 2016, with 30 of these in Bolivar state.

Advice to Travellers

Ensure British Vaccination Schedule complete including booster doses as teenagers.

Travellers should be aware of:

  • Persistence of disease in many regions of the world to which unvaccinated individuals are susceptible.
  • Waning immunity from diphtheria vaccine with increasing age.
  • Ten-yearly boosters of vaccine should be given for travel to epidemic/endemic areas particularly where individuals will be mixing with the local population (e.g. health workers, teachers, volunteers).

For futher information see Diphtheria