Singapore reports 1st Diphtheria case in 20 years

A construction worker from Bangladesh has died from respiratory disease diphtheria in Singapore, the country’s first confirmed case in more than 20 years, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health.

“As he had not travelled out of Singapore recently, he was likely to have been infected in Singapore,” said the statement.

The 21-year-old worker, who had developed fever and swelling of the neck on July 30, was hospitalized and isolated Tuesday. However, he died three days later on Friday.

The ministry added that it is screening the patient’s close contacts, including those who lived in the same dormitory and worked in the same workplace.

It was reported that the last local case of diphtheria was identified in 1992 in the city-state, while the last imported case was in 1996.

Diphtheria is transmitted from person to person via the respiratory route through close contact with an affected person. Symptoms include fever or chills, sore throat, swelling of the neck, and nasal discharge.

The best way to prevent diphtheria is to get vaccinated, which reduces the mortality and morbidity of the disease “dramatically”, said the ministry.

About 96 to 98 percent of Singaporean children aged two years old are vaccinated against the disease.