Diphtheria – Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness. It is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultatively anaerobic Gram-positive bacterium. The bacterium produces a toxin (poison) that is carried in the bloodstream. It is characterized by sore throat, low-grade fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsil, pharynx, and/or nose. Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease spread by direct physical contact or breathing the aerosolized secretions of infected individuals. Once quite common, diphtheria has largely been eradicated in developed nations through wide-spread vaccination. Diphtheria is common in many parts of the world. Diphtheria is rare in the United States and Europe, where health officials have been immunizing children against it for decades. However, it’s still common in developing countries where immunizations aren’t given routinely. Diphtheria is most common in areas where people live in crowded conditions with poor sanitation. Persons, especially children, who are not immunized or who did not receive adequate immunization are most at risk.

Children were at highest risk for respiratory diphtheria. Some people can be infected but not appear ill. They can also spread the infection. People get diphtheria by breathing in diphtheria bacteria after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Diphtheria bacteria live in the mouth, nose, throat, or skin of infected persons. In more serious cases, it can attack the heart and nerves. Diphtheria is re-emerging in some areas of the world where immunization practices are lax. Symptoms usually appear 2 to 4 days after infection. Diphtheria toxin can damage the heart muscles and cause heart failure or paralyze the breathing muscles. Diphtheria spreads from person to person very easily. Diphtheria usually attacks the throat and nose. Routine vaccination of both children and adults is essential to prevent the re-emergence of diphtheria in the United States. The infection also causes the lymph glands and tissue on both sides of the neck to swell to an unusually large size.

Causes of Diphtheria

1.Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

2.Crowded living conditions with poor sanitation.

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

1. Sore throat.

2. Difficulty breathing.

3. Rapid heartbeat.

4. Swollen lymph glands.

5. Gray membrane covering the throat and tonsils.

6. Low blood pressure

7. Fever.

Treatment of Conjunctivitis

1. Antitoxin is injected into a vein (intravenously) or into a muscle (intramuscular injection).

2. Children and adults who have diphtheria often need to be in the hospital for treatment. Diphtheria is a medical emergency. The person should be given a medicine (diphtheria antitoxin) to fight the diphtheria poison and antibiotics to fight the diphtheria bacteria. The antitoxin neutralizes the diphtheria toxin already circulating in your body.

3. Some patients might need mechanical help in breathing (respirator). Persons who have been in close contact with the patient should have throat cultures and be given antibiotics. Tn to persons who have been immunized before.

4. Diphtheria is also treated with antibiotics, such as penicillin or erythromycin. Antibiotics help kill bacteria in the body, clearing up infections.

5. In advanced cases, a person with diphtheria may need the assistance of a machine that helps them breathe (ventilator) until the infection is successfully treated. As is the case with all immunizations, there are important exceptions and special circumstances. Health-care providers should have the most current information on recommendations about diphtheria vaccination.