Is an infectious disease affecting the upper respiratory tract and occasionally, the skin caused by diphtheria toxin.
Occurs from 2 to 5 days. It causes a “bull neck” appearance due to pharyngitis, enlarged cervical lymph nodes, and oedema of soft tissue. Diphtheria toxin can cause paralysis and cardiac failure.
By droplet and through contact with articles (such as clothing or bed linen) soiled by infected persons. Infected person can be infectious up to 4 weeks but carriers may potentially transmit the infection for longer. Infections in humans are also associated with the consumption of raw dairy products and contact with animals such as cattle.
Risk is increased living in overcrowded condition. Diphtheria cases continue to be reported in South-East Asia, South America, Africa and India. Several importations of diphtheria also occurred from former Soviet Union countries into Western Europe.
The diphtheria vaccine is only given as part of combined product and are inactivated, do not contain live organisms and cannot cause the diseases against which they protect.