Diphtheria is a fatal bacterial infection affecting the mucosal covering of your nasal tract and throat. It is rare now in developed countries because of an effective widespread vaccine present. The hallmark of this disease is a thick gray membrane covering the throat, which may restrict airflow and breathing.
Diphtheria is transmitted by a bacterium called corynebacterium diphtheriae. It spreads via airborne droplets, or contamination of personal or household items. Following are some risk factors:
- Unimmunized children
- Unsanitary, crowded living conditions
- Residents or travellers to area endemic in diphtheria
Symptoms of diphtheria begin two to five days after an infection, and infected individuals may remain asymptomatic in some cases. Following are some symptoms:
- Sore throat and hoarsness
- Thick membrane covering throat and tonsils
- Difficulty in breathing
- Nasal discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fever, malaise, chills
- Breathing difficulties, cardiac and nerve damage are serious complications that may prove fatal.
After clinical suspicion, a culture of the membrane covering the throat can prove the diagnosis if turns out to be positive for C. Diphtheriae.
Treatment includes aggressive use of anti-toxin and antibiotics to control the infection. Immunization is of prime importance and cannot be overlooked.