Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Diphtheria

Diphtheria is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. This germ produces a toxin that can harm or destroy human body tissues and organs. One type of diphtheria affects the throat and sometimes the tonsils. Another type, more common in the tropics, causes ulcers on the skin.

Diphtheria affects people of all ages, but most often it strikes unimmunized children. In temperate climates, diphtheria tends to occur during the colder months. In 2000, 30 000 cases and 3000 deaths of diphtheria were reported worldwide.

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Last updated: 21 June 2011

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