“Shocking” Diphtheria Death in Australia

May 6, 2011 | healthmap | Outbreak News

A 22 year old Brisbane woman has died from diphtheria; it is believed she was unvaccinated. Diphtheria is a severe respiratory infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The president of the Australia Medial Association noted "In the (early) 1900s it was the most common cause of death from an infectious disease." In fact, Alaska’s famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the heroic efforts of mushers and their sled dogs to relay diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome during a 1925 outbreak. Today diphtheria is very rare in industrialized countries like Australia, but it remains a problem in many parts of the world including nations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the former USSR. The diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus combination vaccine has been very effective in fighting the disease.

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