Diphtheria – common symptom of diphtheria

The main symptom of diphtheria is sore throat, with a white pseudomembrane due to inflamed cells adhering to the inside of the throat.

According to Dr. Huynh Minh Tuan, Head of the Infection Control Department, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, diphtheria is an acute infectious and toxic disease caused by diphtheria bacteria. The main symptoms are sore throat and the appearance of a white pseudomembrane.

Depending on the location of the bacteria attacking the body, pseudomembranes can appear in many places such as tonsils, larynx, nose, throat… Pseudomembranes are also found on the skin, conjunctiva, and genitals.

Due to pharyngitis with pseudomembrane, patients often have fever, hoarseness, and cough. Severe illness can lead to complications such as otitis media and pneumonia due to diaphragmatic paralysis. Patients will have difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, vision changes, and stuttering.

In more severe cases, diphtheria toxin seeps into the blood causing systemic poisoning, paralysis of cranial nerves, peripheral motor nerves, sensory nerves, myocarditis or arrhythmia, leading to death.

“The disease progresses rapidly, so it is necessary to detect symptoms early for timely treatment,” said Dr. Tuan, adding that mild patients will be treated with antibiotics and diphtheria antitoxin. Patients may be transfused with diphtheria antitoxin serum. In severe cases with complications, doctors will treat with appropriate regimens such as respiratory support (intubation, mechanical ventilation), neurological and cardiac support (pacemaker placement).

Diphtheria is a contagious disease, easily transmitted through the respiratory tract and contact with secretions from the patient’s nose and throat. The bacteria can infect and survive on the surface of surrounding objects from several days to several weeks, for example in milk and drinking water for up to 20 days; in a corpse for two weeks…

The incubation period is 2-5 days. High-risk groups include young children, the elderly, and people with low immunity. People who have been vaccinated against diphtheria or have had the disease are still susceptible to reinfection because the body does not create immunity or immunity gradually decreases over time.

Therefore, Dr. Tuan recommends full vaccination to ensure immunity.

By Editor

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