What is diphtheria?
|A vaccine against diphtheria has made it very rare today in the US and other developing countries.|
How is diphtheria transmitted?
|The diphtheria bacterium can enter the body through the nose and mouth. However, it can also enter through a break in the skin. It is transmitted from person-to-person by respiratory secretions or droplets in the air. After being exposed to the bacteria, it usually takes two to four days for symptoms to develop.|
What are the symptoms of diphtheria?
|The following are the most common symptoms of diphtheria. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include: |
|The symptoms of diphtheria may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.|
How is diphtheria diagnosed?
|A physician can usually diagnose the illness based on clinical examination. A swab culture of the mouth or affected mucous membrane may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.|
Treatment of diphtheria:
|Specific treatment for diphtheria will be determined by your child's physician based on: |
|Antibiotics are usually effective in treating respiratory diphtheria before it releases toxins in the blood. An antitoxin can be given in combination with the antibiotics, if diphtheria is suspected. Sometimes a tracheostomy (a breathing tube surgically inserted in the windpipe) is necessary if the child has severe breathing difficulties.|
Prevention of diphtheria:
|Children in the US are routinely given a triple vaccine that includes diphtheria in their first year. Because diphtheria still prevails in underdeveloped countries, the vaccine remains necessary in case of exposure to a carrier visiting from abroad.|
Immunization against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis:
|Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccines prevent these diseases. Most children who receive all of their shots will be protected during childhood. A combination vaccine is given to babies and children and provides protection against all three diseases. There are several types of the vaccine: |
When are DTaP vaccines given?
|DTaP vaccines are given to babies and children at the following ages: |
|Children who are 11 to 12 years of age should receive a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine with a tetanus booster every 10 years thereafter. |
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