Diphtheria epidemic in the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1993-1996.J Infect Dis. 2000 Feb; 181 Suppl 1:S104-9.JI
The Republic of Uzbekistan, like the other Newly Independent States in the 1990s, experienced epidemic diphtheria during the 1990s. The outbreak in Uzbekistan began in 1993 in southern regions that bordered areas of Tajikistan that were experiencing a very intense diphtheria epidemic. However, the Uzbek epidemic rapidly spread and threatened to involve the entire country. From 1993-1996, 1169 cases of diphtheria were reported, compared with 58 in 1990-1992. Unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated cases were more likely to have clinically severe forms of diphtheria than those who were fully vaccinated. Strong epidemiologic links with the Tajik diphtheria epidemic and the predominance of mitis biotype strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae in Uzbekistan make it likely that the Uzbek outbreak arose independently of the predominantly biotype gravis epidemic that began in Russia. The epidemic appeared to be due to low population immunity and the large-scale reintroduction of toxigenic strains of C. diphtheriae. Several mass vaccination campaigns and general enhancement of routine immunization procedures led to control of the epidemic in 1996.