August 14 19:58 2019 Print This Article

Cutaneous diphtheria presents as infected skin lesions which lack a characteristic appearance. It is a very contagious and potentially life-threatening bacterial disease. The name of the disease is derived from the Greek diphthera, meaning leather hide. Neck swelling is usually present in severe disease. Children under 5 and adults over 60 years old are particularly at risk for contracting the infection. It is re-emerging in some areas of the world where immunization practices are lax. Diphtheria, is an upper respiratory tract illness characterized by sore throat, low-grade fever, and an adherent membrane (a pseudomembrane ) on the tonsil (s), pharynx, and/or nose. In 1993 and 1994, more than 50,000 cases were reported during a serious outbreak of diphtheria in countries of the former Soviet Union. Corynebacteria are Gram-positive, aerobic, nonmotile, rod-shaped bacteria related to the Actinomycetes.

Diphtheria is rare in the United States and Europe, where health officials have been immunizing children against it for decades. In more serious cases, it can attack the nerves and heart. It is a highly contagious disease spread by direct physical contact or breathing the aerosolized secretions of infected individuals. Three biotypes (ie, mitis, gravis, intermedius), each capable of causing diphtheria, are differentiated by colonial morphology, hemolysis, and fermentation reactions. The bacterium was first observed in diphtheritic membranes by Klebs in 1883 and cultivated by Löffler in 1884. Myocarditis, polyneuritis, and airway obstruction are common complications of respiratory diphtheria; death occurs in 5%-10% of respiratory cases. Years ago, diphtheria was a leading cause of death among children.The genus Corynebacterium consists of a diverse group of bacteria including animal and plant pathogens, as well as saprophytes.

Causes of Diphtheria

Here are the list of the possible causes of Diphtheria:

  • A germ called corynebacterium diphtheriae causes diphtheria, which infects the throat and sometimes the skin.
  • Diphtheria is usually transmitted by contact with respiratory droplets from infected persons or asymptomatic carriers.
  • Diphtheria can also be transmitted by contaminated objects or foods (such as contaminated milk).
  • Contaminated household items, such as towels or toys (rarely).
  • People also get diphtheria from close contact with discharges from an infected person’s mouth, nose, throat, or skin.
  • Not having had a booster dose in the past ten years.
  • You can also come in contact with diphtheria-causing bacteria by touching an infected wound.

Symptoms of Diphtheria

Some sign and symptoms related to Diphtheria are as follows:

  • A sore throat and hoarseness.
  • A thick, gray membrane covering your throat and tonsils.
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
  • Malaise.
  • Painful swallowing.
  • Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in your neck.
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Skin lesions can be seen in cutaneous diphtheria (usually seen in the tropics.
  • Bloody, watery ( serosanguineous ) drainage from nose.
  • Croup-like (barking) cough.

Treatment of Diphtheria

Here is list of the methods for treating Diphtheria:

  • A person with diphtheria should be hospitalized until fully recovered.
  • Penicillin or erythromycin may also be given, particularly to guard against complicating factors such as pneumonia or streptococcal infection.
  • Isolation.
  • The person should be given a medicine (diphtheria antitoxin) to fight the diphtheria poison and antibiotics to fight the diphtheria bacteria.
  • Strict bed rest is recommended for all those with diphtheria for at least 2 or 3 weeks.
  • DTP (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis) and DTaP (Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis ) vaccines are designed to prevent the diptheria.
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