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Diphtheria cases in people seeking asylum in the UK

Liz Blamire

1st December 2022

This week we have learned that cases of diphtheria are rising amongst people seeking asylum in the UK. What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It is spread by coughing and sneezing and therefore spreads easily, especially in overcrowded conditions such as those at the Manston - the place where many asylum seekers are held until their asylum claim is processed. The infection causes a swollen and sore throat, difficulty breathing and sometimes skin ulcers. It can be fatal (cause death), although with the right treatment given early enough (antibiotics), infected individuals can make a full recovery.

In the UK most people are vaccinated against diphtheria, as it is part of the national vaccination programme. However, people coming from other countries may not be vaccinated. The Home Office have stated that they are making vaccinations and antibiotics available to individuals at Manston. However, critics of the government that were already angered by overcrowding at Manston, are claiming that this proves the centre is unsafe.

Read more: Diphtheria cases rising among asylum seekers

Liz Blamire

Liz is the current tutor2u subject lead for Health and Social Care. She is a former NHS midwife, who has worked in community, birth centre and acute hospital settings. Liz is an SSAT Accredited Lead Practitioner, who has taught Health and Social Care in FE and secondary schools, where she was a successful HOD. Liz is an experienced senior examiner and author.

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