Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that can spread easily and mainly affects the nose and throat. It is highly infectious for up to four weeks . Diphtheria is a serious disease that causes severe inflammation of the nose, throat and windpipe and can lead to suffocation, paralysis and heart failure.
Diphtheria has become rare in Australia. There has not been a reported case or death due to this disease since 1992, in stark contrast to the first half of the 20th Century .
Specific treatment with antibiotics and an antidote to the toxin is available. Widespread immunisation against diphtheria is the only effective control. The diphtheria vaccine is administered through the National Immunisation Program.