What is Diphtheria?

Diphtheria (dif-THEER-e-uh) is a serious bacterial infection. It usually affects the mucous membranes of your nose and throat. It causes a sore throat, fever, swollen glands and weakness. But the hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of your throat, blocking your airway, causing you to struggle for breath.


Corynebacterium diphtheriae is a bacteria that causes diphtheria. Usually C. diphtheriae multiplies on or near the surface of the mucous membranes of the throat. C. diphtheriae spreading in three ways:

Airborne droplets.People may inhale C. diphtheriae when an infected person’s sneeze or cough. Diphtheria spreads efficiently in crowded conditions.
Contaminated personal items. People occasionally catch diphtheria by close contact with personal items which are bacteria-laden.
Contaminated household items. Diphtheria spreads on shared household items, such as towels or toys in rare cases.

You can also come in contact with diphtheria-causing bacteria by touching an infected wound.


Signs and symptoms usually begin two to five days after a person becomes infected:

esA thick, gray membrane covering your throat and tonsils
A sore throat and hoarseness.
Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in your neck.
Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
Nasal discharge.
Fever and chills.
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