This respiratory infection can also cause massive swelling of the neck, known as the bovine neck. In addition, the disease may be accompanied by cardiac, renal and neurological complications.
The risk of diphtheria is due to outbreaks in several countries and low vaccination coverage. Local cases in regions with historically low childhood vaccination rates (less than 90%) underscore the importance of identifying adults who may have missed vaccines in childhood. The diphtheria vaccine is safe and effective. Remember: the vaccine does not save against infection, but greatly facilitates the fight against the disease.
Diphtheria is caused by toxin-producing strains of the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheria and Corynebacterium ulcerans, which mainly affect the throat and respiratory tract. The disease causes the formation of gray and white plaque on the tonsils, which can form a membrane and make breathing difficult.
Diphtheria usually spreads from person to person through sneezing and coughing. Less commonly, through wounds on the skin.
The incubation period lasts from 2 to 10 days.
The infected person has an increase in temperature, pallor of the skin, weakness appears, the neck swells, difficulty swallowing, palatine tonsils increase, hyperemia occurs (overfilling of blood vessels of the circulatory system of an organ).
Is diphtheria treated?
If a person has a suspicion of diphtheria, he will be hospitalized in an infectious diseases hospital. Patients with diphtheria are treated with anti-diphtheria serum – antitoxin. At the same time, the infected person is undergoing a course of antibacterial drugs. During the course of treatment, the patient needs to drink a large amount of liquid.
What is antitoxin?
Painful diphtheria bacteria were discovered and identified in 1884 by German bacteriologists. The disease was considered incurable until Emil von Bering showed that providing patients with serum obtained from animals previously infected with diphtheria, known as antitoxin (antibodies to the toxin produced by bacteria), can save their lives. He received the first ever Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1901.
Once diphtheria antitoxin became available, the incidence of diphtheria decreased, but the disease was still considered a mass killer. In England in 1945, about 9,000 children died from diphtheria, compared with 8,000 who died due to bombing.
The discovery of the diphtheria vaccine in 1923 and the development of the combination diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP) in 1948 is one of the greatest public health stories of all time.
In the early 1970s, before widespread immunization, about a million cases of diphtheria were reported annually in the world. Forty years later, in 2016, 86% of children around the world received three doses of the vaccine under the age of one year, and the number of cases dropped to just over 7,000. These successes and the reduction in the number of cases made diphtheria an almost “forgotten disease” “.
Major outbreaks of diphtheria were reported in Haiti in 2014, Venezuela in 2016, Yemen in 2017, Indonesia in 2017 and among the displaced Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in 2017.
Injections are divided into three types:
- DTP – the best known to us since childhood triple counteraction (diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus), is used for children under 6 years old;
- ADS – against diphtheria and tetanus, applicable to people with contraindications for pertussis vaccine;
- ADS-M – injections are given to children over 6 years of age and diphtheria vaccinations for adults who have already received DTP in childhood.
Diphtheria vaccine for adults is done every 10 years. Introduced drugs provoke the immune system to produce antitoxins. Thanks to these elements, the disease is no longer scary for your body.