After being dormant for a year, diptheria hits two people in Malappuram district, Kerala. In 2013, the district reported 11 cases, with one death, but last year there were no reports of diphtheria cases.
With the two recent deaths, the total confirmed cases this year has increased to five. Government officials said the present outbreak in Malappuram could be attributed to the Muslim community's reluctance to vaccination. Malappuram has the second largest Muslim population among Indian districts.
Malappuram district medical officer Dr Ummer Farook said, "This year's cases were reported from two residential Muslim institutions. The victims were in the age group of 10-12 years, and were not vaccinated.
Dr Farook said, "A section of society considers vaccination an American agenda. They fall into the trap of anti-vaccination campaigners. However, due to consistent effort in recent years, the district has achieved 90 percent vaccination in the category of under-five children."
Health Minister V S Sivakumar said, "The department will conduct a major immunization drive in these districts. The situation is under control and the present outbreak cannot be attributed to any lapse on the part of the government."
A survey conducted by health department in Malappuram showed that among 3,55,279 children below the age of five, 4,729 had not taken any kind of vaccination. Therefore the government has announced that vaccination camps will be held from October 1 to 10 in Malappuram district.
Farook said, "It was assessed that 25 percent children below the age of 15 have not taken any vaccination. We will give DPT vaccine for children below the age of 7. Students of fifth and tenth class will be given TD vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria."