April 20, 2010
Nanaimo – A young woman from Nanaimo is recovering in hospital after being treated for diphtheria. The individual has responded very well to treatment and her condition has improved significantly.
Only close contacts of this individual are at risk, and those are all being contacted and will receive testing as well as preventive treatment with an antibiotic. The immunization status of this individual is unclear at this time.
"Casual contact in public areas such as a shopping malls or restaurants do not constitute a significant exposure that would cause a concern to the general public”, said Dr. Lorna Medd, Medical Health Officer.
Diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract. Delay in starting treatment is associated with complications and death. Diphtheria is usually seen in unimmunized or under immunized children but may also be found in adults who have not been immunized. Although individual cases of diphtheria continue to occur in Canada, there have been no epidemics following the introduction of diphtheria toxoid in 1929.
Immunization has helped to almost eradicate many diseases such as diphtheria, smallpox, measles and polio; however, these diseases still circulate and may infect people who are vulnerable because they have not been vaccinated.
VIHA will be providing more information this week to kick-off National Immunization Awareness Week, which begins on Saturday, and it is timely to remind all of us to keep our immunizations up to date.
If you are uncertain about which immunizations you should receive, please consult your family physician, pharmacist or public Health Unit. See the blue pages in the telephone directory for locations and phone numbers, or on the VIHA website at www.viha.ca.
– 30 –
VIHA Communications 250.740.6980