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What is diphtheria?
A common childhood disease in the 1930s, diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease that can infect the throat (respiratory diphtheria) or the skin (skin or cutaneous diphtheria). It is rare today, thanks to the diphtheria vaccine.
Types of diphtheria
What causes diphtheria?
The diphtheria bacterium can enter the body through the nose and mouth. However, it can also enter through a break in the skin. It's transmitted from person-to-person by coughing or sneezing. After being exposed to the bacteria, it usually takes two to four days for symptoms to develop.
Is diphtheria common?
No, thanks to the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTaP), diphtheria is very rare today in the United States and other developed nations.
What are the symptoms of diphtheria?
While symptoms vary from child to child, the most common include:
Can you prevent diphtheria?
The diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine routinely given during your child's first year prevents diphtheria. Because diphtheria still exists in underdeveloped countries, the vaccine remains necessary.
There are several types of the vaccine:
Some children should not get the DTaP vaccines, or should get them later. These include children who:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”