Health Care and Diptheria

Diphtheria
once was a major cause of illness and death among children, according to the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The United States recorded 206,000 cases of
diphtheria in 1921 and 15,520 deaths. Before there was treatment for
diphtheria, up to half of the people who got the disease died from it.
Starting
in the 1920s, diphtheria rates dropped quickly in the United States and other
countries with the widespread use of vaccines. In the past decade, there were
less than five cases of diphtheria in the United States reported to CDC.
However, the disease continues to cause illness globally. In 2014, 7,321 cases
of diphtheria were reported to the World Health Organization, but there are
likely many more cases.
Diphtheria
is an infection caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacterium,
according to the CDC. Diphtheria is spread (transmitted) from person to person,
usually through respiratory droplets, like from coughing or sneezing. Rarely,
people can get sick from touching open sores (skin lesions) or clothes that
touched open sores of someone sick with diphtheria.
Diphtheria typically causes a sore throat, fever, swollen
glands and weakness, according to the Mayo Clinic. But the hallmark sign is a
sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of your throat, which can block
your airway, causing you to struggle for breath. Diphtheria is extremely rare
in the United States and other developed countries, thanks to widespread
vaccination against the disease.
Medications are available to treat diphtheria. However,
in advanced stages, diphtheria can damage your heart, kidneys and nervous
system. Even with treatment, diphtheria can be deadly — up to 3 percent of
people who get diphtheria die of it. The rate is higher for children under 15.
More information on this disease is also available at this site: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diphtheria/home/ovc-20300505
.
According to HealthLine, in some cases, these toxins can
also damage other organs, including the heart, brain and kidneys. This can lead
to potentially life-threatening complications, such as myocarditis, paralysis
or kidney failure. Children in the United States and Europe are routinely
vaccinated against diphtheria, so the condition is rare in these countries.
However, diphtheria is still fairly common in developing countries where
immunization rates are low.
In these countries, children under age 5 and people over
age 60 are particularly at risk of getting diphtheria. People are also at an
increased risk of contracting diphtheria if they:
·        
Aren’t up to date on their vaccinations.
·        
Visit a country that doesn’t provide immunizations.
·        
Have an immune system disorder, such as AIDS.
·        
Live in unclean or crowded conditions.
You may also develop cutaneous diphtheria, or diphtheria
of the skin, if you have poor hygiene or live in a tropical area. Diphtheria of
the skin usually causes ulcers and redness in the affected area. More info on
diptheria is located at this website: http://www.healthline.com/health/diphtheria#Overview1
.
Preventing
diphtheria, according to KidsHealth, depends almost completely on giving the
diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine to children (DTaP) and non-immunized
adolescents and adults (Tdap). After a single dose of Tdap,
adolescents and adults should receive a booster shot with the
diphtheria/tetanus vaccine (Td) every 10 years.
Most cases
of diphtheria occur in people who haven’t received the vaccine at all or
haven’t received the entire course.The Tdap vaccine is also recommended for all
pregnant women during the second half of each pregnancy, regardless of whether
or not they had the vaccine before, or when it was last given.
The
immunization schedule calls for:
·        
DTaP
vaccines at 2, 4, and 6 months of age
·        
Booster
dose given at 12 to 18 months
·        
Booster
dose given again at 4 to 6 years
·        
Tdap
vaccine given at 11-12 years
·        
Booster
shots of Td given every 10 years after that to maintain protection
·        
Tdap
vaccine during the second half of each pregnant woman’s pregnancy
Usually
the matter is settled, one way or the other, in 7 to 10 days. Sometimes there
are lasting complications such as arthritis, paralysis, or brain damage,
according to this website: https://www.drgreene.com/articles/diphtheria/ . Cutaneous
diphtheria is not as serious as other forms, but it usually takes up to 3
months to recover – and sometimes a year or more.

Antitoxin
and diphtheria antibiotics should be given immediately. Skin lesions need to be
thoroughly and carefully cleaned. Other treatment will depend on the clinical
status of the victim. It may be minimal or critical care may be required. Most
need tube feedings and frequent suctioning. Some need a tracheostomy, according
to DrGreene.com. Strict bed rest is recommended for all those with diphtheria
for at least 2 or 3 weeks, with heart monitoring at least several times a week
for a month or more to detect any damage to the heart. Most people who recover
from diphtheria do not develop immunity! They need to be immunized soon
after recovery.

Diptheria
is deadly, and can be spread easily in many situations. If you or your children
have not been immunized against it, visit your doctor or a health care facility
as soon as possible to be vaccinated. Preventive care is the first line of
defense against this terrible disease.

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