Diphtheria is one of the infectious diseases that are known to man and which can be spread by physical contact or breathing of contaminated air. The disease is caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheriae. However, the innovation and use of vaccine against the bacteria has managed to reduce cases of the disease in most of the developed countries to negligible levels. The main objective of this paper is to summarize the details of diphtheria as an infectious disease.
According to Mandell, Bennett and Dolin (Mandell et al. 25),diphtheria has been a leading cause of death among children for a long time in history. The disease was once referred to as “strangling angel of children." Notable American colonies were struck by diphtheria epidemic in the 18th century, but the recent cases are connected to the 1990s large diphtheria outbreak in Soviet Union’s independent states and Russia.
Historically, the bacteria that cause diphtheria were discovered in 1880s with the development of antitoxin in 1890s and the vaccine in 1920s. The availability of the vaccine has led to the drastic reduction in many industrial countries, though it is still endemic in poor countries. A new phenomenon in the vaccination against diphtheria is the increasing number of adult people who are advised to seek immunization again after a presumably inadequate vaccination in their childhood (Mandell, Bennett and Dolin, 27).
Diphtheria symptoms occur two to seven days after the infection and are characterized by skin coloration, especially to bluish color, problems of breathing such as rapid and difficult breathing. These symptoms are then preceded by drooling, fever, and painful swallowing. There may also be skin lesions, sore throat, or both in some of the areas where the disease has occurred. However, the disease sometimes does not show any symptoms, which require a clinical test to detect.
In conclusion, diphtheria continues to pose danger to many people even as the world becomes a global village. People are travelling to other regions for one reason or the other, and, therefore, there is a need for a continuous vaccination against the disease. Such a measure will help to eliminate re-introduction of the disease in regions thought to be free from it.