Diphtheria is an acute bacterial infectious disease affecting the upper respiratory tract, and occasionally the skin, caused by the action of diphtheria toxin produced by toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae or by Corynebacterium ulcerans. It can lead to serious upper respiratory complications which can prove fatal.
Diphtheria cases continue to be reported in South-East Asia, South America, Africa and India. A large number of UK citizens travel to and from these regions, maintaining the possibility of the reintroduction of C. diphtheriae into the UK. We recommend that you book a consultation with us to assess your risk before traveling.
Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease so it’s really important that you get the required doses of Diphtheria vaccine before traveling to a region with risk of diphtheria. Additionally, it’s important that travelers maintain good hand hygiene and avoid hand contact with eyes, nose, and mouth.
The most characteristic features of diphtheria affecting the upper respiratory tract are inflammation of the throat, fever, enlarged anterior cervical lymph nodes and edema of soft tissue giving a 'bull neck' appearance. The pseudo-membrane may cause respiratory obstruction.
Diphtheria is a preventable disease with a vaccine available in the UK. It is available as a combination vaccine by the name of Revaxis in the UK. Travelers to risk areas are recommended to book a consultation to establish risk and immunisation requirements before traveling.