Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease caused by bacteria. It most commonly infects the nose and throat. The throat infection causes a grey to black, tough, fibre-like covering that can block the airways.
How it is spread Diphtheria spreads through respiratory droplets (like when you cough or sneeze) of an infected person. It can also be spread by contaminated objects of foods such as contaminated milk.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms usually occur two to five days after you have come into contact with the bacteria:
- Bluish coloration of the skin
- Bloody, watery drainage from nose
- Breathing problems
- Croup-like (barking) cough
- Painful swallowing
- Skin lesions
- Sore throat.
Routine childhood immunisations and adult boosters prevent the disease.
If a healthcare provider thinks you have diphtheria, treatment should start immediately, even before the test results are available. People with diphtheria may have to stay in hospital while getting medicine. Anyone who has come into contact with the infected person must get an immunisation or booster shots against diphtheria.