What is Diphtheria?
It is a fatal disease. After contact with the disease the incubation period is about 3 days, after which symptoms occur in the form of fever, tiredness and sore throat. This develops with the production of a thick grey exudates and difficulty in swallowing.
Who is at risk of Diphtheria?
Any traveller to an endemic area; that is: an area where the disease is constantly present with low levels of infection. Areas of high infection include Eastern Europe as well as developing countries.
How can I prevent Diphtheria?
The best method of protection is vaccination. In the UK, diphtheria vaccination is part of the routine immunisation programme and is given in a combined vaccine with tetanus as a primary dose and reinforced for the purpose of travel. Current UK guidelines state that as for tetanus vaccine, a total of five doses of the vaccine are considered to give lifelong immunity. It is also important to recognise that a mild form of diphtheria can still occur in immunised people.
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.