Cases of cholera may have declined in Yemen, but the ongoing war and blockade are creating a new threat to public health as a suspected diphtheria outbreak takes hold.
By 4 December, 318 suspected cases of diphtheria and 28 deaths had been reported in 15 of Yemen’s 20 governorates. Half the suspected cases are children between the ages of five and 14, and nearly 95 per cent of deaths are children under 15. Nearly 70 per cent of all suspected cases are in Ibb governorate.
Diphtheria is a contagious and potentially fatal bacterial infection, mainly characterised by a thick grey membrane at the back of the throat or nose, sore throat and fever. It can be prevented through vaccination.