Saturday, 2 May 2015

South Africa: Diphtheria cases reemerge

Diphtheria, a deadly bacterial infection has resurfaced in South Africa after more than 20 years; disease killing one child, two critically ill, and three others “strongly suspected” of having the disease.

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae that usually affects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. It typically causes a sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes and weakness. A pathognomonic sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the  throat, which can block the airway, causing difficulty in breathing and a barking cough like croup.
The disease is spread by airborne droplets, direct contact and contact with infected materials including wounds.

Although you can receive some protection from diphtheria with 3-4 doses of Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus Toxoid vaccine (DPT) given in childhood, booster doses are still needed every 10 years.
Bull's neck (from swollen glands)

In spite of treatment, diphtheria can lead to complications like: arrhythmia from myocarditis; paralysis from nerve injury, kidney problems, bleeding problems and death.

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