Diphtheria disease is found worldwide and the organism can be carried by healthy individuals and transmitted to susceptible individuals through inhalation or direct contact with contaminated wounds.


Diphtheria affects the upper respiratory tract resulting in a sore throat and tonsils and severe difficulty in breathing. Diphtheria toxin can also affect the heart.


The diphtheria vaccine is combined with the tetanus vaccine given in childhood. Many adults no longer have immunity from their childhood vaccination and may be at risk when visiting affected countries.