Absorption of diphtheria toxin into the bloodstream results in toxic damage to organs such as the heart, kidneys and peripheral nerves.
Through close contact with someone infected with the bacteria which cause the disease.2,3 You can also get diphtheria from contact with belongings such as clothing or bedding.2
Cases are reported from many areas including North America, Europe and Australasia.4 But the disease is more common in countries which do not offer routine vaccination.
Fever, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, general feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite and sometimes hoarseness.2,3
Severe diphtheria can cause difficulty breathing which can be fatal.2,3 There may also be serious effects on the heart and nervous system. You need to get treatment with antibiotics and antitoxin promptly. Someone with suspected diphtheria is likely to be treated in a hospital isolation ward.