1. Caused by: A type of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae causes diphtheria
2. Occurrence: Diphtheria affects people of all ages, but most often it strikes unimmunized children. In temperate climates, diphtheria tends to occur during the colder months. In 2000, 30000 cases and 3000 deaths of diphtheria were reported worldwide.
3. Symptoms: When diphtheria affects the throat and tonsils, the early symptoms are sore throat, loss of appetite, and slight fever. Within two to three days a bluish-white or grey membrane forms in the throat and on the tonsils. This membrane sticks to the soft palate of the throat and may bleed. If there is bleeding, the membrane may become greyish-green or black. The patient may either recover at this point or develop severe weakness and die within six to ten days. Patients with severe diphtheria do not develop a high fever but may develop a swollen neck and obstructed airway.
4. System of body effected: One type of diphtheria affects the throat and sometimes the tonsils. Another type, more common in the tropics, causes ulcers on the skin.
5. Vector: Diphtheria is transmitted from person to person through close physical and respiratory contact.
6. Vaccine available: Yes.
7. Transmission: Diphtheria is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. This germ produces a toxin that can harm or destroy human body tissues and organs. Diphtheria affects people of all ages, but most often it strikes unimmunized children.
The condition is typically spread through person-to-person contact or through contact with objects that have the bacteria on them, such as a cup or used tissue. A person may also get diphtheria if he/she is around an infected person when they sneeze, cough, or blow their nose.
Even if an infected person doesn’t show any signs or symptoms of diphtheria, they’re still able to transmit the bacterial infection for up to six weeks after the initial infection.