Diphtheria case confirmed in Latvia

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The Disease Prevention and Control Center (SPKC) said March 1 it had confirmed Latvia's first case of diphtheria in three years.

In the period from 2009 to 2019, 119 cases of diphtheria were registered in Latvia, nine of which proved fatal.  

"Vaccination plays a crucial role in the prevention of diphtheria," said the SKPC and emphasized that insufficient vaccination coverage creates a risk of a larger outbreak and spread of infection.  

Vaccination against diphtheria is paid for by the state and available from family doctors.

Children in Latvia are vaccinated against diphtheria as infants and then again at the age of 7 and 14 years. To extend lifelong immunity, adults need a booster vaccination every 10 years.  

After contracting diphtheria, full-fledged immunity against diphtheria is not formed, so even people who have had diphtheria in the past should be vaccinated regularly.  

What is diphtheria? 

The source of diphtheria infection can be both a person with diphtheria and a healthy person who does not suffer from diphtheria but is a carrier of the diphtheria bacterium. 

Most often, diphtheria enters the human body through the tonsils, throat and nasal mucosa. Diphtheria can be contracted by inhaling air containing microscopic droplets of the bacteria, which are spread by talking, coughing or sneezing by a diphtheria sufferer or a carrier of the bacterium. The infection also has a cutaneous form, when a person becomes infected through a wound. 

The incubation period of the disease is from 2 to 5 days, but in some cases it can be even up to 10 days. Sometimes, at the beginning of the disease, a slightly increased body temperature, weakness, and sweating can be observed. These symptoms gradually progress, and the characteristic signs of diphtheria develop: 

  • general weakness; 

  • temperature rise; 

  • sore throat, redness, swelling, difficulty swallowing; 

  • a gray plaque appears on the tonsils, which can spread throughout the throat. 

  • in small children, plaque can start from the larynx, in this case cough, hoarseness and difficulty breathing occur; 

  • headache and loss of appetite are also possible. 

If a person shows any signs characteristic of diphtheria, he or she should be immediately hospitalized, isolated and specific treatment should be started. If you notice signs of diphtheria, contact your family doctor immediately.

More information: https://www.spkc.gov.lv/lv/difterija  

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