Singapore in panic mode as Bangladeshi worker dies from diphtheria, first local case in 25 years

This is the first local diphtheria case in Singapore in last 25 years.

Picture for representation
Picture for representation Reuters

Singapore has gone into a panic mode after a 21-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker died of the highly contagious diphtheria disease, which has resurfaced after 25 years. The last local case was in 1992, while last imported case was in 1996.

The deceased, who used to work in at Teban Gardens, was living in a dormitory in Yishun Avenue 7. What is more shocking is that experts have found out that he had not travelled out of Singapore and most likely was infected by the bacteria here.

As a precautionary measure, 48 workers, who lived close to the Bangladeshi national, have been sent for medical checkups. Moreover, according to Ministry of Health (MOH) two people, who were in close contact with the victim, have been put under quarantine in isolation wards at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).

The worker was suffering from fever and neck swelling since July 30. However, he died five days after he was hospitalised in KTPH. Diphtheria – mostly an air borne disease is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Some patients also develop heart muscle inflation, kidney problem and start bleeding in the later stages.

Though MOH said that there are fewer chances of this disease spreading in Singapore as the nation has a compulsory vaccination against it, officials are a bit worried.

Another Bangladesh construction worker, identified as Alam Jahangir said: "There are so many people here - it might be easy (for the disease) to spread," reported Straits Times.

Thai construction worker Nantha Khoei, 47, said: "Our employer has told us about Sars and Zika before, and how to report if we have headaches, body pains and fever, but we don't know what to do for this disease."

They have been currently given preventive medication and a booster diphtheria vaccine. MOH also said that respiratory samples have been taken for testing.