Health & Fitness

General Articles

Protection Against Diphtheria

Protection Against Diphtheria

School is one place where children pick many kinds of infections and some of these can have serious implications. Flu, diphtheria, tetanus can be harmful for children if they are not properly protected against them. There are medications and treatments available to fight against these diseases but prevention is definitely better than cure. Flu vaccines, tetanus vaccines and diphtheria vaccines are regularly administered in many schools to improve the immunity. Diphtheria is one disease that needs special attention as by the time it gets diagnosed; the child might have been seriously infected.

The infection is caused by a bacterium called the Corynebacterium diphtheria. Diphtheria is a contagious disease transmitted through droplets expelled while coughing, speaking or by direct contact with infected skin lesions. It is not spread by contaminated objects. Diphtheria epidemic usually spreads among groups of small children. It is possible for diphtheria carriers not to develop symptoms of the disease and still easily transmit it to others. The common symptoms of diphtheria are sore throat, fever, and difficulty in breathing or swallowing.

The diagnosis of diphtheria involves taking cultures from the nose and throat of the suspected individual. Immediate administration of diphtheria anti-toxin needs to be done as soon as the sickness has been diagnosed. If timely measures are not taken the patient may suffer from cardiac complications, neurological disorders, infections of lung, blood or bone, and death. Respiratory diphtheria has a mortality rate of 10-15%. This may be higher in age groups less than five and more than forty. Antitoxins may reduce the mortality rate considerably. The prevention of this disease is through proper immunization. Newborn infants are naturally protected from diphtheria for up to one year by antibodies transferred from mother’s blood during gestation. Regular periodic doses of the diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccines are given to children till the age of 5 years and then booster doses are administered every ten years because the immunity wanes over time. Since this disease is contagious, the best prevention is immunization. In fact, timely immunization has resulted to a total wipeout of diphtheria cases in many regions.

Diphtheria is a serious illness that needs effective protective measures to develop strong immunity especially in those regions where the epidemic is expected to spread the most. Highly populous areas are more prone to the spread of this disease. Although the use of anti-toxins can control the spread of the illness, it is equally important to provide protection through timely immunization. Immunization companies and government departments regularly monitor the administration of school vaccinations for such diseases.