Bangladeshi Worker Living In Yishun Dormitory Dies Of Diphtheria

Is another health scare going to hit Singapore, just days before National Day?

When Channel NewsAsia reported that a Bangladeshi worker had died of diphtheria on Friday (Aug 4), we wouldn’t have blamed Singaporeans from wondering whether it’s the story of Sars, H1N1 and the Zika Virus all over again.

After all, diphtheria is contagious, though it hasn’t been seen in Singapore for a while. Since 1992, in fact.

The bacteria that causes diphtheria


Don’t Worry

But we think there’s no cause for alarm — the very fact that the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the last local case of infection was in 1992, means that it’s unlikely that diphtheria will spread like wildfire here.

And as children in Singapore are required to be vaccinated for the disease, locals are apparently well-protected.

Here’s some thing to know about the disease that has made its comeback here:

1. It Spreads Via Close Contact

As diphtheria is a bacterial infection, it can be spread from person to person via close physical contact.

That includes via coughing and sneezing. It could can be spread by contact with an infected person’s personal items, like clothes.

So, if you had any close contact with the Bangladeshi worker or his friends, you may have been exposed to the disease.

He lived in a dormitory at Yishun Avenue 7. There are 2 on that road, one of which is named Simpang Lodge 2.



He was also working at a site in Teban Gardens.


The MOH have already screened 48 people who have had contact with the dead worker. 2 of them have developed a sore throat and have been isolated at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

So if you frequent any one of these places, do look out for symptoms, which are:

2. Its Symptoms: Fever, Sore Throat, Neck Swelling, Nasal Discharge

All of which can also be symptoms of other illnesses.

However, if your airway is infected, or you have breathing difficulties, it’s more likely that it could be diphtheria.

A clue would also be to ask a brave friend to shine a light down your throat and take a look.

If there’s a false membrane covering the throat tonsils, that’s a pretty big sign of diphtheria.


3. It May Be Treated With Home Remedies

Interestingly enough, there are some things you may be able to find at home that may treat diphtheria — like garlic juice, herbs or salt.

Disclaimer: We have not tried them, and we don’t guarantee they work.


It can also reportedly be treated with antitoxins, an old remedy:


However, we do still advise infected people to visit a doctor or a hospital for proper treatment.

4. It’s Compulsory For Children To Get Vaccinated

The good news is that in Singapore, it’s actually part of the law that children are vaccinated against diphtheria — which is a big reason why the disease hasn’t been seen here for so long.


In fact, not only is the first jab compulstory, so are subsequent booster jabs to ensure the child is well-protected:


The first dose is to be given as early as three months old, the second dose at roughly four months and the final to be completed by six months of age, according to the MOH.

And that’s also why foreign workers are probably the main people who are at risk, as they may not have been vaccinated against the disease in their home countries.


Take Care

So what can we do in the meantime? Wait, and see if you have any of the abovementioned symptoms.

And if you’re concerned about diphtheria, get yourself jabbed at any clinic or hospital.

Featured images from Wikimedia Commmons and