We have identified you may not be viewing TRAVAX optimally because the browser you are using is unsupported - click here.


Diphtheria in Algeria, Nigeria, Guinea, Niger and Mauritania

16 November 2023

On 29 October 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on the current diphtheria situation in African countries.

Algeria: On 3 August 2023, the Ministry of Health announced measures to contain a diphtheria outbreak in the south of the country. There have been 80 cases.

Nigeria: 4 160 suspected cases of diphtheria were reported from 27 states. Kano (3 233), Yobe (477), and Katsina (132) States have recorded most cases. A total of 137 deaths were recorded among confirmed cases.

Guinea: An outbreak of diphtheria has been ongoing in the Kankan region since 4 July 2023. As of 4 October 2023, there have been 456 suspected cases including 57 deaths. Children aged 1-4 years are the group most affected. Nearly all cases have been reported from Siguiri District.

Niger: An outbreak of diphtheria was reported in Matameye health district, Zinder region on 17 July 2023. As of 23 October 2023, a total of 1690 suspected cases, including 75 deaths were reported from 20 health districts.

Mauritania: The Mauritanian Ministry of Health reported suspected cases of diphtheria on 19 October 2023. A total of 8 suspected cases, including 4 deaths, have been reported as of 29 October 2023.

Diphtheria is an acute bacterial infection affecting the respiratory tract or skin. The Corynebacterium species bacteria produce a toxin which can cause local tissue necrosis and if systemically absorbed can affect the myocardium, peripheral nerves and other tissues. It is transmitted through respiratory droplets from infected individuals or asymptomatic carriers, or direct contact with contaminated material (such as bed linen or clothing). It persists in many regions of the world and travel may increase an individual’s risk of exposure.

Advice to Travellers

Immunity from diphtheria vaccine can wane with increasing age and the travel consultation provides a valuable opportunity to ensure individuals are optimally vaccinated against diphtheria.

Consider vaccinating:

  • Those individuals with an incomplete primary vaccination history for diphtheria

  • Travellers who have not had a booster dose of diphtherian containing vaccine in the last 10 years

  • Aid workers travelling to regions with confirmed diphtheria outbreaks who are likely to be exposed to infection, and have not had a reinforcing dose of a diphtheria containing vaccine in the last 12 months

All travellers should be aware of the risk of diphtheria, its transmission routes and symptoms and are advised to:

Further guidance for the management of contacts of diphtheria cases is available from UKHSA

See the TRAVAX Diphtheria page for more information.