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Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that usually affects the tonsils, throat and nose, and may affect the skin.

Diphtheria remains a serious disease throughout much of the world. Large outbreaks of diphtheria have occurred in the past due to unimmunised or inadequately immunized people groups of people. Some cases can be mild while more severe cases can lead to death.


How is Diphtheria spread?

The disease is passed from person to person by droplet transmission, usually by breathing in diphtheria bacteria after an infected person has laughed, coughed, or sneezed the bacterium onto the victim. It can also be spread by handling used tissues or by drinking from a glass used by an infected person.


What are the symptoms of Diphtheria?

Early symptoms of diphtheria may mimic a cold: sore throat, mild fever, and chills. Usually, the disease causes a thick coating at the back of the throat, and this can make it difficult for patients to breathe or swallow. Other body sites besides throat can also be affected, including the nose, larynx, eye, vagina, and skin.


Who is at risk?

Those who have not been vaccinated. Poor hygiene and crowded environments increase risk of spread. Routine childhood immunisations and adult boosters prevent the disease.


How to avoid Diphtheria

Diphtheria is not available as a single vaccine. It is included in the DTaP vaccine (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), or combined with tetanus toxoid as paediatric DT (for infants and children who cannot receive the pertussis component) or as adult Td (for individuals seven years of age or older receiving initial or booster doses).

A Tetanus/Diptheria booster is recommended 10 yearly for travellers


Further information about Diphtheria

Please note that the recommendations given are general guidelines as to what may be required for a trip to these countries. However, they really do depend on many factors of your travel itinerary and medical history. All travellers are strongly advised to make an appointment to see a WORLDWISE Travel Doctor for up to date advice (including a vaccination plan and anti-malaria recommendations) tailored specifically to your upcoming trip.


Remember, our Travel Health Specialists are travellers too and have probably been to the region that you are going to. They appreciate the importance of enjoying a problem-free trip and of staying healthy abroad.

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Countries at risk of Diphtheria

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