Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease affecting mainly children. The primary immunization of three doses of the diphtheria toxoid in infancy is routine throughout the world, except where it isn’t. With proper childhood immunization and boosters, there should be little or no diphtheria. Although it is possible for immunized people to develop diphtheria, the disease is much less severe. In the unimmunized population, the mortality rate is 5% to 10%, and deaths occur mainly in the very young and the very old.
About 7,000 cases of diphtheria were reported in the world in 2016. Most were from India and Madagascar. However, there is thought to be a great deal of underreporting. Diphtheria is rare in the United States, with only two cases reported between 2004 and 2015.
This activity is supported by educational funding provided by Amarin Pharma Inc., Amgen, and Quest Diagnostics.
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