Diphtheria

Diphtheria

Facts about Diphtheria

Diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease that usually affects the tonsils, throat, nose, and/or skin. The disease is passed from person to person by droplet transmission, usually by breathing in diphtheria bacteria after an infected person has coughed, sneezed, or even laughed. It can also be spread by handling used tissues or by drinking from a glass used by an infected person. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, and sometimes death.    

What are the symptoms?

In its early stages, diphtheria may be mistaken for a severe sore throat. Other symptoms include a low-grade fever and enlarged lymph nodes (swollen glands) located in the neck. Diphtheria can cause skin lesions that may be painful, red, and swollen. Symptoms usually appear two to four days after infection, with a range of one to six days. People carrying diphtheria germs are contagious for up to four weeks without antibiotic therapy, even if they themselves do not develop symptoms.

How can diphtheria be prevented?

There is a vaccine for diphtheria. Most people receive their first dose as children in the form of a combined vaccine called DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis). Health officials now recommend that adults and adolescents receive a Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) booster vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). This recommendations is instead of the previously recommended Td (tetanus-diphtheria) booster.

Fact:

Diphtheria is transmitted to others through close contact with discharges from an infected person's nose, throat, eyes, and/or skin lesions.

Fact:

Diphtheria can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.

Fact:

Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, and sometimes death.

Fact:

Nearly one out of every 10 people who get diphtheria will die from it.

Fact:

Most cases of diphtheria occur among unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated people.

Fact:

Recovery from diphtheria is not always followed by lasting immunity, so even those persons who have survived the disease need to be immunized.

Fact:

Although no longer a very common disease in the United States, diphtheria remains a large problem in other countries and can pose a serious threat to US residents who may not be fully immunized and who travel to other countries or have contact with immigrants or international travelers coming to the US.

Resources

Adolescent Vaccination Recommendation: Tdap

adolescentvaccination.org

Cocooning and Tdap Vaccination

Immunization Action Coalition

Difteria - Informacion para los padres

Diphtheria information in Spanish for parents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics

Diphtheria

In-depth information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics

Diphtheria - Information for Parents

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics

Preteen and Teen Vaccines

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tdap Vac Video

Indiana Immunization Coalition, Inc.