Diphtheria

Overview

Type of disease: Rare conditions

Diphtheria is a rare and serious bacterial infection that affects the function of mucous membranes in the nose and throat. The bacteria get passed from person to person through contaminated personal or household items and airborne infected droplets. Young children and elderly people are at higher risk of getting diphtheria. Symptoms of diphtheria include gray/black mucus covering the throat and tonsils, sore throat, swollen glands, difficulty breathing, fever and chills, nasal discharge, and an overall feeling of discomfort (malaise). An antitoxin, which counteracts the toxin of the bacteria, as well as antibiotics, can be used to treat diphtheria. Some people with diphtheria may need hospitalization or surgery to remove the lining in the throat. There is a vaccination for diphtheria that effectively prevents the bacterial infection for many individuals and is part of the routine childhood vaccinations in most parts of the world.

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