Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that affects the membranes of the throat and nose. Diphtheria is caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacterium. It is most commonly spread through person-to-person contact or contact with items that have the bacteria on them. Coming into contact with items such as an infected person’s cup or used tissue can transfer the bacteria. The mist exhaled by an infected person’s sneeze or cough can also contain the bacteria.
A 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
Fever and chills Malaise
Doctors may suspect diphtheria in a sick child who has a sore throat with a gray membrane covering the tonsils and throat. Growth of C. diphtheriae in a laboratory culture of material from the throat membrane pins down the diagnosis. Doctors can also take a sample of tissue from an infected wound and have it tested in a laboratory to check for the type of diphtheria that affects the skin (cutaneous diphtheria).