Doctors in the national capital have sounded an alert as the season's first death due to diphtheria has been reported in Delhi. The first casualty has been reported from North MCD’s Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital (MVID) this month.
According to the figures shared by the North civic body, a total of 14 patients testing positive with diphtheria were admitted to the hospital this month, which is also the highest admission so far this year.
Doctors in various Delhi hospitals have said the medical centres should be prepared as the number of diphtheria cases could rise.
“The numbers could spike because this disease remains contained in extreme weather, but as the season starts getting moist, the numbers rise,” said a doctor at a North MCD hospital.
He said the North MCD has ordered 6,000 vials of the serum from the Central Research Institute (CRI) in Kasauli, but has received only 2,000 so far.
“We are expecting the demand to be met soon, as once the outbreak happens, existing vials will be exhausted in a month,” he said.
The annual production is 6,000 vials, director of CRI Ajay Kumar Tahlan said, adding they have to provide the serum to hospitals across India.
“We have sent 2,000, and more will be sent in the coming months as per demand. If they need more, there are two-three private companies that can be contacted,” he said.
North Corporation commissioner Varsha Joshi, however, said, “The hospital will get 1,000 vials every month from July onwards, which is as per our requirement.”
She said this is from their regular supplier (CRI) and there is no need for fresh arrangements. MVID is the only hospital in Delhi that deals with the disease.
This is not the first time the national capital is witnessing a widespread of this disease.
Last year, 11 children had died between September 6 and 19, with parents attributing the deaths to a non-availability of the anti-diphtheria serum. October and November saw 22 and 12 deaths. Of the 766 patients admitted to MVID hospital last year, 100 had died, most of them children.
What is diphtheria
Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Signs and symptoms may vary from mild to severe. They usually start two to five days after exposure.
Symptoms often come on fairly gradually, beginning with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, a grey or white patch develops in the throat. This can block the airway and create a barking cough as in croup. The neck may swell in part due to enlarged lymph nodes.
A form of diphtheria that involves the skin, eyes, or genitals also exists. Complications may include myocarditis, inflammation of nerves, kidney problems and bleeding due to low levels of platelets.
Myocarditis may result in an abnormal heart rate and inflammation of the nerves may result in paralysis.
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