An outbreak of diphtheria has been ongoing in Haiti since late 2014. Since the beginning of the year - as of early April - 62 confirmed or probable cases have been detected, including six related deaths. Ongoing vaccination campaigns were launched in mid-March; a total of 2.3 million children in high-risk areas are expected to receive the vaccine by the end of the campaign.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria, which primarily infects the throat and upper airways and produces a toxin affecting other organs. The illness has an acute onset and the main characteristics are sore throat, low-grade fever, and swollen glands in the neck; the toxin may, in severe cases, cause myocarditis or peripheral neuropathy. The disease is spread through direct physical human contact or from breathing in the aerosolized secretions from coughs or sneezes of infected individuals.
Individuals considering travel to Haiti are advised to confirm vaccinations are up to date and to keep abreast of the situation.
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