Outbreak News Today

Diphtheria: A short history, the disease, treatment and the success of the vaccines

In 2016, more than 7,000 diphtheria cases were reported worldwide with about half reported in India. In addition, diphtheria hasn’t been seen in Venezuela in decades; however, under a socialist, dictatorial regime, Venezuela has seen the comeback of this vaccine preventable killer to the tune of 450 cases since the summer of 2016.

In this podcast, I briefly talk a little about the history of diphtheria and some recent epidemics.

I was also joined by Senior Associate with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Amesh Adalja, MD who answered questions about transmission, pathology, complications, treatment and the vaccines.

When I asked if there was a diphtheria outbreak in the US, would we be seeing an anti-vaccine movement?, Dr Adalja said, “I don’t think so. Diphtheria is such a dangerous disease with such a high mortality rate that it would really bring people to their senses..the anti-vaccine movement…to see what a vaccine-preventable disease would do and what a plague diphtheria was.”

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