According to a Times of India report there have been more than fifteen children with signs of diphtheria infection in an orphanage in the Kerala state city of Malppuram, and one child has died of toxic myocarditis caused by the infection. Apparently none of the confirmed or suspected cases had been immunised.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that can be spread via sneezing and/or coughing, and sufferers experience various symptoms including fever, swollen neck glands and a sore throat.
Diphtheria has been eliminated or reduced in many areas of the world as a result of mass immunisation but immunity does wane, and for travellers to countries where the disease may still be present a booster vaccination every 10 years is recommended.
DTaP Vaccine (Diphtheria/Tetanus/Whooping cough)
This vaccine offers protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), which are all serious and life threatening conditions. It is currently given in combination form with Hib/IPV vaccines.
- Tetanus occurs in all countries and can be fatal. It is a bacterial infection, which enters the body through a wound.
- Diphtheria is caused by bacteria which infect the throat, releasing a toxin that paralyses the heart and nervous system. Although it occurs worldwide, it is more prevalent in less developed countries.
- Pertussis is a bacterial infection leading to prolonged severe coughing and is particularly dangerous to small children.