By: Cynthia Esquivel

What is diphtheria?

Corynebacterium diphtheriae, also known as Diphtheria, is a serious bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. Although it spreads easily from one person to another,diphtheria can be prevented through the use of vaccines.

How does diphtheria attack and spread?

The cough or sneeze of a person who has a throat full of diphtheria bacteria releases tiny droplets into the air. If someone else breathes in that wetness, diphtheria rides in ready to start another infection. Diphtheria also loves to lie in wait on some surfaces like in the mucus on a used tissue or on a toy that's been in an infected person's mouth.

Who does diphtheria affect?

Diphtheria affects children under five and adults over sixty, those living in crowded or unsanitary conditions, the undernourished, and children and adults who do not have up to date immunizations.

Where is diphtheria most likely to be found?

Diphtheria is found throughout the world but is more common in regions where immunization programmes have been limited or withdrawn due to economic reasons or from civil strife. The disease is quite common in such areas that are over populated and unsanitary such as Africa, Asia and South America

Most common symptoms/injuries?

Symptoms usually begin two to fives days after a person becomes infected and may include:

  • a thick gray membrane covering your throat and tonsils
  • a sore throat and hoarseness
  • swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in your neck
  • difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • nasal discharge
  • fever and chills
  • malaise

Most effective treatment for diphtheria?

Diphtheria treatment today involves:

  • using diphtheria antitoxin to stop the poison (toxin) produced by the bacteria from damaging the body
  • using medicines (called antibiotics) to kill and get rid of the bacteria

How to prevent getting diphtheria?

Prevention of diphtheria has four aspects:

  • immunization
  • isolation of infected persons
  • identification and treatment of contacts
  • reporting cases to health authorities

Characteristics of Diphtheria

The C.diphtheriae is a gram positive rod with a distinct club shape at one end of the rod.