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Welcome, medical contents search April 25, 2013
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more about Diphtheria

  • This is an infection that can affect the respiratory tract (lungs), throat, mouth, or skin wounds.
  • It usually occurs in children who are younger than 15 years of age.

  • Respiratory diphtheria
  • Nasal drainage
  • Throat pain
  • Throat tightness and "closing off"
  • Fever
  • Ill feeling
  • Diphtheritic skin infection:
    1. A superficial, nonhealing ulcer with a gray-brown membrane
    2. Pain, tenderness, and red skin lesions
  • Ear, eye, or genital tract infection: Discharge, pain, and redness of eye, ear, or genitalia

  • It is caused by the bacterium, Corynebacterium diphtheria, and is spread by mucous from person to person.  In addition, this bacterium produces a toxin that can cause myocarditis (inflame the heart muscle) or neuropathy (damaged nerves).
  • It is spread by airborne respiratory droplets or direct contact with respiratory secretion or infected skin.

  • Examination: Gray membrane covers the tonsils and back of the throat
  • Testing: Cultures of specimens from the nose, throat, and any other mucocutaneous lesions should be done if diagnosis is uncertain, but doctors must treat if the condition is even suspected, because death is a real danger and possibility.

  • If this condition is even suspected, antitoxin must be given.
  • Antibiotics are also helpful, but cannot be used alone.
  • Removal of the membrane covering the tonsils may be needed to prevent airway obstruction.

  • Death due to airway obstruction
  • Myocarditis -- inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Neuropathy -- nerve damage occurs that results in double vision, slurred speech, or difficulty swallowing.

  • This is a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate emergency medical treatment.  Untreated, this can lead to death quickly.

  • All children are routinely vaccinated against diphtheria with the DPT vaccine as part of the normal scheduled childhood Immunizations.
  • Children should be given a total 5 doses of DPT vaccine by their seventh birthday.
  • Adults are vaccinated every ten years as part of D-T (diphtheria-tetanus) vaccine.

more about Diphtheria

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