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DIPHTHERIA

  • Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria.
  • It primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs.
  • The main characteristics are sore throat, low fever and swollen glands in the neck.
  • In severe cases, the toxin may, cause myocarditis or peripheral neuropathy.
  • The diphtheria toxin causes a membrane of dead tissue to build up over the throat and tonsils.
  • The disease is spread through direct physical contact.
  • It can also be spread from breathing in the aerosolized secretions from coughs or sneezes of infected individuals.

TREATMENT

  • Vaccination against diphtheria has reduced the mortality and morbidity of diphtheria.
  • Treatment involves administering diphtheria antitoxin to neutralize the effects of the toxin, as well as antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
  • Diphtheria vaccine is a bacterial toxoid, ie. a toxin whose toxicity has been inactivated.
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