Diphtheria

Diphtheria is a contagious illness caused by a type of bacteria. It can cause breathing and swallowing problems and can damage the heart and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Diphtheria, though rare, can be fatal if not treated.

The DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccine, given in childhood, protects against diptheria infection. Tdap and Td vaccines are booster shots that give continued protection to adolescents and adults.

Last Updated: April 14, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

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