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 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. Antibiotics are also recommended in the treatment of diphtheria.
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.