Last Reviewed : 12/25/2020

Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Signs and symptoms may vary from mild to severe. They usually start two to five days after exposure. Symptoms often come on fairly gradually beginning with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases a grey or white patch develops in the throat. This can block the airway and create a barking cough as in croup. The neck may swell in part due to large lymph nodes. A form of diphtheria that involves the skin, eyes, or genitals also exists. Complications may include myocarditis, inflammation of nerves, kidney problems, and bleeding problems due to low blood platelets. Myocarditis may result in an abnormal heart rate and inflammation of the nerves may result in paralysis.

Diphtheria is usually spread between people by direct contact or through the air. It may also be spread by contaminated objects. Some people carry the bacteria without having symptoms, but can still spread the disease to others. There are three main types ofC. diphtheriae causing different severities of disease. The symptoms are due to a toxin produced by the bacteria. Diagnosis can often be made based on the appearance of the throat with confirmation by culture. Previous infection may not prevent against future infection.

A vaccine, known as diphtheria toxoid, is effective for prevention and available in a number of formulations. Three or four doses, given along with tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine, are recommended during childhood. Further doses are recommended every ten years. Protection can be verified by measuring the antitoxin level in the blood. Treatment is with the antibiotic erythromycin or penicillin G. These antibiotics may also be used for prevention in those who have been exposed to the infection. A surgical procedure known as a tracheostomy is sometimes needed to open the airway in severe cases.

In 2013, 4,700 cases were officially reported, down from nearly 100,000 in 1980. It is believed, however, that about a million cases occurred per year before the 1980s. It currently occurs most often in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Indonesia. In 2013, it resulted in 3,300 deaths down from 8,000 deaths in 1990. In areas where it is still common, children are most affected. It is rare in the developed world due to widespread vaccination. In the United States 57 cases were reported between 1980 and 2004. Death occurs in between 5% and 10% of those affected. The disease was first described in the 5th century BC by Hippocrates. The bacterium was discovered in 1882 by Edwin Klebs.


We researched this topic for you and found the following best online resources. They are categorized into basic, advanced, and research level based on the extent of information you need. You will be taken to the respective websites by pressing on the links below.


Basic information:

http://www.healthline.com/health/diphtheria health line diphtheria

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diphtheria/basics/definition/con-20022303 mayo clinic diphtheria

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001608.htm medline plus diphtheria

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/diphtheria.html kids health diphtheria

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diphtheria/pages/introduction.aspx nhs uk diphtheria

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/diphtheria better health diphtheria

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/bacterial-infections/diphtheria merck manuals(consumer version) diphtheria

https://www.healthychildren.org/english/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/pages/diphtheria.aspx healthy children diphtheria

http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/tdap-vaccine-for-adults#1 web md tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis vaccine for adults

http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/diphtheria/overview.html new york times diphtheria

http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/diphtheria university of mary land merdical center diphtheria

http://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/d/diphtheria/symptoms-of-diphtheria.html health service executive diphtheria


Advanced information:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159534.php medical news today what is diphtheria? What causes diphtheria?

http://www.medicinenet.com/diphtheria_facts/article.htm medicine net diphtheria

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/782051-overview medscape diphtheria

http://www.vaccines.gov/diseases/diphtheria/ vaccines.gov diphtheria

http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/timelines/diphtheria history of vaccines diphtheria

http://textbookofbacteriology.net/diphtheria.html text book of bacteriology diphtheria

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/diphtheria/article_em.htm emedicine health diphtheria

http://patient.info/doctor/diphtheria-and-diphtheria-vaccination patient diphtheria and diphtheria vaccination

http://www.adultvaccination.org/vpd/diphtheria adult vaccination diphtheria



http://jasbsci.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2049-1891-3-29 functional verification of the diphtheria toxin a gene in a recombinant system by jingfeng zhang et al., journal of animal science and biotechnology20123:29 doi: 10.1186/2049-1891-3-29

http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/181/supplement_1/s116.full the pathology of diphtheria by ted l. Hadfield et al., j infect dis. (2000) 181(supplement 1): s116-s120.doi: 10.1086/315551


Other helpful resources(support groups):

http://www.nfid.org/idinfo/diphtheria national foundation for infectious groups


Related videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fogagk3nmh4 diphtheria

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pok8yma2rtq corynebacterium diphtheria and diphtheria

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9so2cn_a7be diphtheria causes symptoms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o75ke3diev8 diphtheria

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdqjfhtg9sy diphtheria toxin mechanism

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrnddai8svq corynebacterium diptheriae pathogenesis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxbywqisi_8 corynebacterium diptheriae treatment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyrqdohdiyo corynebacterium diptheriae introduction and infection

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdvhnqf7i6i what is diphtheria cause, symptoms & treatments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7oibczkgqe diphtheria


Presentations/quiz/newspaper articles:

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/kerala-muslims-and-diphtheria/article8824851.ece the hindu the fallacies of the faithful

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/spain-s-first-case-diphtheria-28-years-due-lack-vaccination/ ifl science spain has first case of diphtheria in 28 years thanks to anti-vaxxers

http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/two-persons-dead-37-affected-diphtheria-kerala-no-shortage-vaccines-says-govt-46370 the news minute two persons dead, 37 affected by diphtheria in kerala; no shortage of vaccines says govt

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3409168/denmark-announces-unvaccinated-refugees-brought-diphtheria-country-20-year-absence.html daily mail denmark announces unvaccinated refugees have brought diphtheria into the country after a 20-year absence

read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3409168/denmark-announces-unvaccinated-refugees-brought-diphtheria-country-20-year-absence.html#ixzz4j46ddyan

http://time.com/3908566/spain-diphtheria-infection-disease-disease-vaccination-infection-anti-vaxxer/ time first case of diphtheria in spain since 1986 after parents shun vaccination

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/diphtheria-vaccination-sparks-debate-kerala-cm-pinarayi-vijayan-warns-action-against-685783 international business times diphtheria vaccination sparks debate in kerala; cm pinarayi vijayan warns action against anti-vaccination lobby

http://www.healthmap.org/site/diseasedaily/article/spain-first-case-diphtheria-1986-61315 the diseases daily spain: first case of diphtheria since 1986

http://www.ndtv.com/kerala-news/after-diphtheria-deaths-kerala-launches-vaccination-drive-1224822 ndtv after diphtheria deaths, kerala launches vaccination drive

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/one-more-diphtheria-death-in-malappuram/articleshow/52879824.cms times of india one more diphtheria death in malappuram

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/more-teens-get-needed-vaccines-in-blue-states_us_57c6f39ce4b078581f106882huffington post more teens get needed vaccines in blue states

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