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Diphtheria in Bangladesh (Cox's Bazaar)

12 Dec 2017

The European Commission reports 549 suspected cases of diphtheria (including 9 deaths) among Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazaar. Congestion, low vaccination coverage and poor sanitation are assisting spread of infection and the number of cases is expected to double every three to five days. The outbreak is expected to peak around New Year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other agencies have implemented a diphtheria task force to coordinate case management, vaccination, contact tracing and laboratory testing.

Advice to Travellers

Ensure the British Vaccination Schedule is 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 endemic areas particularly where individuals will be mixing with the local population (e.g. health workers, teachers, volunteers).
  • Aid workers travelling to regions with confirmed diphtheria outbreaks, who are thus likely to be exposed to infection, should be given a booster dosedose of a diphtheria-containing vaccine if they have not had one in the last 12 months. 

For futher information see Diphtheria.