Unvaccinated toddler dies of suspected diphtheria in Johor Bahru

A stethoscope. - DayakDaily.com file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18: The Ministry of Health has revealed details of a case of a 14-month-old female toddler who is suspected to have died from diphtheria in Johor Bahru on Oct 15.

According to a press statement from the ministry, the patient had never received any immunisation against diphtheria as the family refused to do so.

The toddler began experiencing fever and sore throat on Oct 4 and was brought by her mother to receive early treatment at a private clinic on Oct 11. The following day, the child was brought to the hospital emergency unit due to difficulty breathing and loss of appetite.

She was admitted into the children’s ward and subsequently into the paediatric intensive care unit on Oct 13 as her condition was weakening and she needed assistance breathing.

However, the patient passed away on Oct 15 due to severe diphtheria with multi-organ failure

A test on a swab sample from the patient’s throat revealed the presence of Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria and the ministry is now waiting for the results of a laboratory test to confirm it.

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection of the Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria that causes sore throat symptoms with the membrane in the throat (pharynx), with bacterial and endocarditis complications likely to occur.

The actions taken to curb transmission of these infections include active search for cases in residential areas, immunization activities, and health education. So far no new case has been reported to the ministry, said Health Director General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in the statement.

The ministry advises the public to be always alert towards contagious diseases which can be erradicated through immunisation, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps and others. Immunisation services may be obtained from government and private health clinics. Failure to immunise children will not only expose them to germ infections but can also endanger the community.

Parents who have yet to immunise their children are requested to get them immunised and follow the
immunisation schedule as set by the ministry. For children who have missed their injections, they may still obtain the treatment at any of the nearest health clinic, the ministry said. — DayakDaily