Corynebacterium diphtheriae is a bacteria that causes diphtheria. Diphtheria is spread through the air. It gets into the body through the mouth or nose of the person. It causes a thick coating that makes it hard to breathe. It can attack the heart and other organs. There are up to 196 cases of diphtheria found each year. Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and/or temporary paralysis. Death can occur in about 10% of cases. Treatment with erythromycin orally or by injection for 14 days, or procaine penicillin G daily, intramuscularly for 14 days. The bacteria multiply on the lining (mucous membrane) of the throat, nose or larynx – where they divide and excrete a poisonous substance or toxin.