Nasty bug transmitted from person to person through close physical and respiratory contact. It can cause infection of the nasopharynx, which may lead to breathing difficulties and death.

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Key Facts around Diphtheria

Up to 10% of those infected die because of Diphtheria.1


  • How do people catch this disease?

    Through the inhalation of infectious particles which are excreted through coughing or sneezing. The disease can be transmitted through close contact with infected persons.2

  • Which countries are affected?

    Cases are reported worldwide from many areas including North- and South-America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Middle East.3 But the disease is more common in countries which do not offer routine vaccination.

  • What are the symptoms?

    Fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, general feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite and sometimes hoarseness.1,2

  • How serious is the disease?

    Severe diphtheria can cause difficulty breathing which can be fatal.There may also be serious effects on the heart and nervous system. You need to get treatment with antibiotics and antitoxin promptly and hospitalization is necessary to monitor for any complications.1,2

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching Diphtheria?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit a travel health clinic to assess the risks of the planned trip and get advice about available vaccinations and further precautions.
      Click here to find your nearest travel health clinic and make an appointment: https://www.reisemedizincheck.at/en/find-a-travel-health-service
    • Wash your hands frequently, either with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitisers4
    • Avoid contact with people who have symptoms of respiratory illness4
  1. World Health Organization. Immunization , Vaccines and Biologicals. Diptheria. Available online: https://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/diphtheria/en/ (last accessed September 2020)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow book 2020. Chapter 4. Travel-Related Infectious Diseases. Diphtheria. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/travel-related-infectious-diseases/diphtheria (last accessed September 2020)
  3. World Health Organization. Immunization Monitoring. Diptheria Reported Cases. July 2020. Available online: http://apps.who.int/immunization_monitoring/globalsummary/timeseries/tsincidencediphtheria.html (last accessed September 2020)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow book 2020. Chapter 11. Posttravel Evaluation. Respiratory Infections.
    Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/posttravel-evaluation/respiratory-infections (last accessed September 2020)

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