Diphtheria is a serious disease of the nose, throat and skin. It causes sore throat, fever and chills. It can be complicated by breathing problems, heart failure and nerve damage. Diphtheria kills about one out of every 10 people who get the disease. It is most often passed to others through coughing and sneezing.
Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists at least 6 weeks before your trip.
Get vaccinated if you are not yet immunized. The diphtheria vaccine is usually given as part of a combined vaccine with other diseases.
What is my risk?
Travellers who are not vaccinated may be at risk for catching diphtheria when visiting a country where the disease is still prevalent. Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists to understand the risk of diphtheria for your trip.
Babies and children are most at risk for becoming infected with diphtheria–and for suffering from complications of the disease. But anyone who has not been immunized is at risk of becoming infected.
If you or your children have not been vaccinated and have never had the illness, you are at risk of infection. Diphtheria is very contagious and easy to catch when you have contact with someone who is infected with the bacteria.
How is it transmitted?
Diphtheria is usually spread from person to person. It can be passed through:
- coughing and sneezing
- touching objects that were recently exposed to the bacteria (such as shared utensils, cups and toys) then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth
Infected people can spread diphtheria to others until the bacteria have completely disappeared from their own bodies.
What are the symptoms?
Some people who are infected with diphtheria will not show any symptoms. For others, symptoms will begin 2 to 5 days after exposure.
Initial symptoms include fever, chills, and sore throat.
The illness can progress quickly and cause thick mucous to be produced and swelling that blocks your airway. This makes breathing and swallowing difficult. In some cases it can also lead to temporary muscle paralysis. When this happens the illness can lead to suffocation or even death.
Diphtheria can also cause infections on the skin that show up as rashes or ulcers.
Can Diphtheria be treated?
Diphtheria is treated with antibiotics as well as with a diphtheria antitoxin. The antitoxin is given to fight the toxins produced by the diphtheria bacteria.
Even with treatment, diphtheria can be fatal in 1 in 10 cases. Diphtheria is especially dangerous for young children.
Travel Consultation Details
Our consultations typically last about 30 minutes and include a comprehensive itinerary and specific topics about your journey. Our Travel Medicine Specialists will discuss recommendations (from the CDC, WHO and other sources) and requirements based on your destinations, activities, time of year, altitude and medical history. Our consultation rooms are private and comfortable. You can usually schedule an appointment on short notice and we will do our best to accommodate you after hours.
As a one-stop travel medicine clinic, Summit Travel Health carries all travel vaccines necessary to protect you on your vacation, safari, mission trip, study abroad semester, business trip, or inter-country adoption. We can also provide antimalarial and antidiarrheal medications. And, with our variety of hard-to-find travel products in stock, you will be fully prepared for whatever challenges arise during your journey.