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Diphtheria

Situation

            Diphtheria is one of vaccine preventable diseases that have been considerably well controlled by high coverage of vaccination in children. During the year 2002 - 2009 the number of diphtheria cases was 2- 12 per year. However, since the year 2010 diphtheria outbreaks have occurred more frequently, especially in the southern region of the country.
            Since June, 2012 there have been a number of outbreaks of diphtheria in Thailand , the recent data  (as of  the 6th of December 2012 ) showed that the total number of diphtheria  cases is 40, with 17 males and 23 females, 4 of these died. Among forty, 4 patients were less than five years, 13 patients are between six to fifteen years, 4 patients are between sixteen to twenty five years and 19 patients were more than twenty five years of age. The cases were found in seven provinces namely, Leoi, Nongbualumphu and Udonthani in the northeastern region, Phetchabun in the northern region and Suratthani, Yala and Pattani in the southern region, more than half of the cases were found in the Leoi province.
 
Outbreak management
            The Ministry of Public Health has been continuously working on diphtheria control since the beginning of the outbreaks, at present the outbreak has significantly reduced. However, disease control measures that include vaccination campaign, management of contacts, outbreak investigation; early detection and early treatment of cases are actively maintained.
            In the areas with confirmed diphtheria cases, such as Leoi province, control measures are strictly implemented at the healthcare services and in the community, especially close monitoring of vaccination campaign to children and adults and home visit by health volunteers to provide knowledge on disease prevention.      
            In all provinces diphtheria prevention measures are ongoing with emphasis in border provinces.
Advice for travelers
            In view of health situation, it is safe traveling in Thailand; provided travelers follow routine health recommendations, including vaccination, before visiting and during the stay in the country. However, areas reported to have diphtheria cases should be temporarily avoided
            Diphtheria is transmitted from person to person through contact with respiratory secretion droplets of patients or carriers (persons who carry the bacteria without an illness), travelers may follow routine preventive measures including avoiding close contact with people with respiratory illness. The most effective way of preventing diphtheria is vaccination.
            Travelers who present with fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, malaise, loss of appetite, and hoarseness of voice should seek immediate medical consultation.