Lessons learnt of diphtheria outbreak in Asia Pacific
Usa Thisyakorn, Chule Thisyakorn
Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
The recent epidemic of diphtheria in the Asia Pacific demonstrates that diphtheria can re-emerge after years of decline. The large population of susceptible adults and the possibility of a reintroduction of toxigenic strains of diphtheria create a setting in which diphtheria could spread. Few physicians now have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of diphtheria, and laboratory capacity is lacking throughout the region. These concern highlight the importance of maintaining high level of age-appropriate diphtheria toxoid vaccination, surveillance, accessible and reliable laboratory testing, and training of health providers. Public health authorities must ensure that the capacity to recognize, diagnose, and control diphtheria should be maintained. Diphtheria control and prevention is part of the renewed public health goals for strengthening infectious disease surveillance and response, improving tools for identifying and understanding emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, determining risk factors for infectious diseases, enhancing epidemiologic and laboratory capacity, and conducting research to develop and evaluate prevention and control strategies.Efficient national surveillance and reporting system with district-level data analysis, are essential in all countries. Further studies, including serosurveys, are required to generate information on the duration of protection and the possible need for booster doses in older age-groups.
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