Newspaper reports fromIndiacarry accounts of an outbreak of diphtheria with as many as 26 cases being admitted to a specialised hospital inDelhi. The patients come from various provinces the first having come from Haryana. Diphtheria is covered under the government ofIndia's universal immunization programme and health experts say the sudden outbreak of the disease is reflective of poor coverage.
The disease is spread by droplet infection and is highly contagious with a significant mortality rate from respiratory obstruction or heart failure. It has been eliminated in many countries by vaccination programmes and there would only be a handful of health professionals inAustraliawho have ever seen a case. Nevertheless it remains a risk for travellers. Vaccination is administered routinely in the infant and school programmes combined with tetanus immunisation in infancy and adolescence. Travellers to countries such asIndiawhere vaccination coverage is inadequate may be at risk of acquiring the disease or of becoming a carrier and should receive a booster dose if they have not received one in the previous 10 years.