top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr Cheong Jack Pein

One in five children who gets diphtheria may die from it. 每五个患白喉症的孩子中就有一个会因此而丧命。

Updated: Nov 1, 2018

A poster promoting public awareness of diphtheria and the importance of diphtheria vaccination

What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacteria named Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Infection may lead to shortness of breath, skin disease, or carrier state without any clinical symptom. The word diphtheria was derived from the Greek word for "leather", which attributes to the tough and solid pharyngeal membrane that is the clinical hallmark of illness. Diphtheria outbreaks occured in Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia and Ecuador in the late 90s. It is now rare in industrialized countries because the DPT vaccines has been implemented. Few outbreaks with mortality have been reported recently in Malaysia due to the family's refusal to receive vaccines injection.



How does the infection spread?

Diphtheria infections are spread from humans to humans through the body fluid, droplets and physical touches.



What is the incubation period of diphtheria?

Incubation period: 2 to 5 days or longer. Infection crops up throughout the year with a peak incidence in the colder months.



What are the clinical manifestations?

The release of toxin causes inflammation and formation of grayish membrane around the throat. Patient has difficult to swallow because the throat feels pain in the area of throat and the swelling of the neck nodes. In severe cases, the neck may become swollen with difficulty of breathing.



Why is diphtheria so dangerous?

Diphtheria can lead to severe complications such as paralysis of the cranial nerves, peripheral and sensory motor nerves, and myocarditis.



What are the treatments available?

Anti-toxin is given immediately after specimens for bacteria cultures are taken without waiting for the result. Antibiotics shall not replace the antitoxins. Erythromycin and penicillin can be given after the cultures are obtained.



Can the disease be prevented?

Yes. All individuals traveling abroad need a vaccine.

Type of vaccine: Diphtheria toxoid.

Dosage: At least 3, injected into the muscles.

Vaccine Schedule: When 2, 3 and 5 months old based on the National Immunization Program of Malaysia.

Extra Dose: When you are 18 months old and 7 years old.

Contraindications: Severe side effects or reactions developed during the previous doses.

Adverse effects: A mild local effect on the injection site or the entire body.

Before departure: Get the vaccine as early as possible. There is little protection after the second dose of vaccine. Erythromycin and Penicillin are given after the cultures are obtained.








Diphtheria induces swelling of the neck, called the "Bull's neck"
Diphtheria induces swelling of the neck, sometimes called the "Bull's neck" 白喉导致特有的颈部肿胀,有时成为“公牛脖”.

skin ulcer on the leg of diphtheria infected person
腿部白喉皮肤损伤.; A diphtheria skin lesion on the leg.

239 views0 comments


bottom of page