Treatment: Antibiotics are also recommended in the treatment of diphtheria. The prompt administration of either erythromycin or penicillin can eradicate the bacteria and halt the production of further diphtheria toxin. The administration of antibiotics also assists in preventing the transmission of diphtheria to others. The diphtheria bacterium is also spread by indirect contact with hands, tissues or other articles soiled by nose and throat discharges, or by indirect contact with skin sores. Without antibiotic therapy, usually less than 2 weeks but occasionally as long as 6 months. A person is no longer infectious after treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Diphtheria remained endemic in some states through the 1970s, with reported incidence rates of greater than 1.0 per million population in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Washington. This epidemic caused more than 157,000 cases and 5000 deaths according to WHO reports. From 1993-2003, a decade long epidemic in Latvia resulted in 1359 reported cases of diphtheria with 101 deaths. The most widely quoted diphtheria mortality rate is 5-10%. It may reach higher than 20% in children younger than 5 years and adults older than 40 years. Immunization patterns have the most influence on mortality patterns. No racial predilection for diphtheria has been reported.
Symptoms: The symptoms usually begin from two to five days where they include a thick dark membrane covering the throat & tonsils, sore throat, swollen glands, nasal discharge, fever.
Pathophysiology: Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by the gram-positive bacillus Corynebacterium diphtheriae. This condition may lead to many chronic diseases like respiratory disease, cutaneous disease, or an asymptomatic carrier state. The word diphtheria is derived from a Greek word for leather, which refers to the tough pharyngeal membrane that is an indication of the infection. The resident inflammation in the upper respiratory tract leads to the accumulation of these cells and necrotic epithelial cells, which has been framed, adherent to the grey pseudomembrane. Endeavors to remove the pseudo-membrane results in bleeding and erythematous mucosa.