How to Treat Diphtheria?

  • November 10, 2023
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How to Treat Diphtheria?

What is Diphtheria?

Diphtheria is caused by the toxin-producing bacterium C. diphtheriae, which spreads through respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces. Primarily affecting the respiratory system, the disease leads to the formation of a pseudomembrane—a thick, grayish layer—on the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. This membrane can obstruct airways, causing breathing difficulties and contributing to severe respiratory distress. Additionally, individuals with diphtheria in warmer climates may experience non-healing skin sores covered with grey tissue, known as cutaneous diphtheria, a manifestation that can also occur in the U.S. in crowded and unsanitary living conditions.

Why is Diphtheria a Concern?

Historically, diphtheria was a major cause of illness and mortality, especially among children. The disease could spread rapidly within communities, leading to outbreaks with high morbidity and mortality rates. However, the introduction of diphtheria vaccination, such as the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine, has significantly reduced the incidence of the disease in many parts of the world.

Despite the success of vaccination efforts, diphtheria remains a concern in regions with lower vaccination coverage. Additionally, the global movement of people and the potential for vaccine hesitancy in some populations create conditions where diphtheria can persist and resurface.