The recent diphtheria outbreak is rapidly spreading in the past 4 months.

From Voice of America:

More than 470 people have been clinically diagnosed with diphtheria. 46 of them have died, nearly 10%.

“Diphtheria is a highly infectious but vaccine-preventable disease,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. “It can be treated with antitoxins and antibiotics, both of which are in short supply in Yemen. The diphtheria vaccine is normally administered as a part of routine immunization programs for children around the world.

“The rapid spread of diphtheria in Yemen highlights major gaps in routine vaccination and also means the health system is under severe strain.”

Sixty-eight percent of suspected diphtheria cases are children under 15 years old, Jasarevic said.

WHO has deployed Rapid Response Teams throughout affected parts of the country to ensure proper case detection, contact tracing and follow up, as well as health education.

WHO has delivered $200,000 worth of antibiotics and 1,000 vials of diphtheria antitoxins, Jasarevic said. The medication can help stop the spread of the bacterium to vital organs in patients already infected with diphtheria.

The U.N. children’s fund imported 5.5 million doses of anti-diphtheria vaccines in December, but health officials have not yet been given the OK to administer them.

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