|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 381-382
Immunity to diphtheria among medical students of a tertiary Hospital, North Kerala
Pushpa Kizhakkekarammel1, Kalpana George2, Anitha Puduvail Moorkoth3, Geetha Raveendran4
1 Professor, Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Alleppey, Kerala, India
2 Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala, India
3 Professor, Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Manjeri, Kerala, India
4 Professor, Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Kollam, Kerala, India
|Date of Submission||06-Mar-2022|
|Date of Decision||09-Jun-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||12-Jul-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||22-Sep-2022|
Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode - 673 008, Kerala
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kizhakkekarammel P, George K, Moorkoth AP, Raveendran G. Immunity to diphtheria among medical students of a tertiary Hospital, North Kerala. Indian J Public Health 2022;66:381-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Kizhakkekarammel P, George K, Moorkoth AP, Raveendran G. Immunity to diphtheria among medical students of a tertiary Hospital, North Kerala. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 26];66:381-2. Available from: https://www.ijph.in/text.asp?2022/66/3/381/356609
Diphtheria is still a disease of public health importance in India. Majority of diphtheria cases being reported globally are from India. Re-emergence of diphtheria with an age shift from children to older age group has been reported from many Indian states and around the globe, which points to the waning protective antibody levels after late childhood., Kerala has been successful in implementing vaccination programs compared to many other states of India. Prevention of epidemics and infectious diseases cell, Kerala, has reported less than 20 diphtheria cases per year from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, no cases were reported. However, in 2015, 53 cases were reported from Kerala, the majority from Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. In the very next year (2016), 533 diphtheria cases were reported from 11 districts of Kerala and 92% of cases were in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts.
It is widely accepted that immunity against diphtheria is conferred by adequate levels of antibody. Even though the exact level of protective antibodies is not defined, general consensus is that 0.1 IU/ml is protective. A study was conducted at a government medical college of northern Kerala to estimate the serum protective antidiphtheria antibody levels among students who represent the young adult population of the above districts. History of childhood immunization was also collected from the participants. Antidiphtheria toxin IgG quantitation was done on serum samples of the participants (N = 596) by ELISA test. Test results were interpreted as < 0.01 IU/ml – no protective immunity (basic immunization recommended); 0.01–0.1 IU/ml – booster vaccination recommended; and > 0.1 IU/ml – good immunity. Pearson's correlation coefficient, Student's t-test, and Chi square test were used for data analysis using SPSS 16.0.
In view of the emerging diphtheria outbreak in the districts, 248 (41.6%) participants had already received Td booster vaccine and 348 (58.4%) students enrolled in the study before receiving the booster. The latter group was taken as the reference group. The mean antibody levels of the group which received Td booster/s were compared with the reference group, which was significantly high in the former group (P < 0.001). When the mean antibody levels in the students who received 1, 2, or 3 doses of Td were compared with the reference group, the group that received even a single dose of Td showed significantly high antidiphtheria antibody levels compared to the reference group. There was significant positive correlation between doses of Td and antibody levels indicating an increase in antibody levels with more number of doses (Pearson's correlation coefficient, r = 0.474, P < 0.001). In the reference group, 226 (64.9%) gave history of completed primary immunisation and protective antibody levels were detected only in 14.1 % .Out of 122 students who did not complete primary immunization, only 13.9% had protective titres. There was no statistically significant difference in antibody titres between the 2 groups (P=0.503). This demonstrates that irrespective of childhood vaccination status, immunity against Corynebacterium diphtheriae wanes over time. A significant positive correlation between Td booster dose/s and antibody levels signifies the need for periodic administration of diphtheria booster vaccine doses to prevent outbreak of fatal diphtheria in the absence of natural infections boosting immunity.
Dr. B. K. Ajitha, Associate Professor in Statistics, Government Medical College, Kozhikode.
Financial support and sponsorship
State Board for Medical Research, Kerala Government, supported the study.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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