Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

Signs and symptoms may vary from mild to severe.

Symptoms of diphtheria include fever of 38 °C or above, chills, fatigue, cyanosis, sore throat, hoarseness, cough, headache, difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, foul-smelling bloodstained nasal discharge and lymphadenopathy.

They usually start two to five days after exposure. Symptoms often come on fairly gradually beginning with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases a grey or white patch develops in the throat. This can block the airway and create a barking cough as in croup. The neck may swell in part due to large lymph nodes.

Diphtheria is usually spread between people by direct contact or through the air. If signs and symptoms appear, seek immediate medical attention.

Source: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (Download), Diphtheria vaccine (Download), From the Desk of the Director-General of Health Malaysia, Image