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SPKC warns of diphtheria vaccination; first case of lethal outcome from diphtheria recorded

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThere has been an increase of diphtheria cases in Latvia in recent years. Latvia’s diphtheria infection level is currently the highest among EU member states, as reported by Disease Prevention and Control Centre’s representative Ilze Araja.

A total of 59 diphtheria cases were recorded in Latvia from 2010 to 2016.

Healthcare Ministry’s public health specialists, epidemiologists and Latvia’s leading infectologists say diphtheria, which was close to non-existent in Latvia thanks to vaccination at one point, remains a serious threat to residents’ health. «The illness a vaccine for which has existed for decades cannot be allowed to return and cause new deaths,» – experts say.

As previously reported, over the past three years, almost one-third of all diphtheria infection cases in the European Union were registered in Latvia, as announced by Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Caksa at a press-conference on 4 January.

A total of 51 diphtheria infection cases were recorded in Latvia and 117 cases in EU countries as a whole in the past three years.

The minister noted that such a situation is unacceptable, because the vaccine is paid for by the state. Caksa urges family doctors to check if their patients are vaccinated against diphtheria. She added it would be prudent to check if there is any need to perform re-vaccination.

«To prevent diphtheria from spreading further, a specific category of patients should be vaccinated against this infectious disease. Nevertheless, Latvia is the only EU member state in which outbreaks of this disease have been noted recently. The only explanation for that is insufficient cover of vaccination measures,» – said Healthcare Ministry’s chief infectologist Uga Dumpis.

To properly inform society of this disease and the importance of vaccination, Disease Prevention and Control Centre intends to organize an information campaign.

Only 65.3% of adults were vaccinated against diphtheria in Latvia in 2015. Leading experts in the field of epidemiology and infectology are concerned about this. They mention saying that Latvia’s diphtheria infection rates remain the highest in the European Union.

According to data from 2015, 65.3% of adults above the age of 25, 91% of youngsters of the age of 14 and 97.4% of children at the age of 7 were vaccinated against diphtheria. This means every tenth school graduate begins their adult life without sufficient protection against diphtheria, said SPKC representative.

Ref: 224.109.109.2998


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