- Humans are the only known reservoir;
carried in the oropharynx (def)
or on the skin.
- Spread person to person by contact
with respiratory droplets or skin lesions.
- Worldwide in unvaccinated hosts
or asymptomatic carriers.
- Very rare in developed countries
where children are routinely vaccinated against diphtheria.
- Respiratory diphtheria develops
after a 2-6 day incubation period. Symptoms include malaise, pharyngitis,
and low-grade fever. A thick pseudomembrane composed of bacteria, plasma cells
fibrin, and dead cells develops and covers the tonsils, uvula (def),
and palate (def);
may extend down to the larynx or up into the nasopharynx. Complications in
severe disease include breathing obstruction, cardiac arrhythmia (def),
coma, and death.
- Cutaneous anthrax appears as a
that develops into a chronic, nonhealing ulcer (def)
occasionally covered by a grayish membrane.
Infections , by Lynda A Frassetto, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department
of Internal Medicine, University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine;
and Lynda A Frassetto, MD, is a member of the following medical societies: American
College of Physicians, and American Society of Nephrology.
Kaiser's Microbiology Home Page
Copyright © Gary E. Kaiser
All Rights Reserved
Updated: Feb. 23, 2005
Please send comments and inquiries to Dr.