By NewsDesk   @bactiman63

The Greece National Public Health Agency reported this week (computer translated) on a rare diphtheria fatality.

Image/3dman_eu via pixabay

The case is an eight-year-old child who died on Nov. 26 at the General Children’s Hospital of Athens where the child was treated for a severe respiratory infection with positive culture of C. diphtheriae in bronchial secretions.

Additional testing showed the diphtheria strain was toxigenic.

The ECDC reports that the last recorded death from diphtheria in Greece was in an imported pediatric
case in 1994, while the last lethal autochthonous case was in the 1970s.

The immunization coverage for the diphtheria-tetanus vaccine in Greece is high at 95 percent.

Diphtheria is an acute bacterial infection of respiratory system which can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms, develop 2 – 5 days after infection, include fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands in the neck. Severe illness presents with swollen neck and thick gray or white patch of dead tissue in the throat and tonsils caused by the bacterial toxin.

Complications are blocking of the airway and absorption of the toxin into the blood stream that may cause damage to the heart, kidneys and peripheral nerves and thus can lead to death. The severely ill patient must visit a hospital for a special medical care immediately to save life.

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Diphtheria is spread from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, from coughing, sneezing and close contact. A person can also get infected by contacting with shared utensils contaminated with the bacteria. Some mild cases can transmit the bacteria to people around them. Recovered patients might not develop immunity against the disease.

The best way to prevent diphtheria is to get vaccinated.