Diphtheria is an infection that affects the throat and nose, and even the skin in some cases; it’s highly contagious. The condition is rare in the UK, but there’s a small chance of catching it if you visit some regions across the globe. However, you can protect yourself against the disease through vaccination. Keep reading to learn more about the diphtheria vaccine in Birmingham before you jet off.
If not treated fast, diphtheria can be a severe and sometimes life-threatening condition, especially in children.
Diphtheria has become a rare occurrence in the UK due to the routine vaccination against it, which is given to babies and children since the 1940s.
Getting a vaccination against diphtheria is the most effective way to avoid it.
If you are visiting an area where diphtheria is prevalent, you may have to get a booster vaccination if your last vaccination was more than 10 years ago.
Since 2018, diphtheria cases have been reported by the World Health Organization in certain parts of the world including:
– South America
Regions that are most affected by diphtheria often change over time. Visit the TravelHealthPro country guides for updated information about the area you are about to travel to.
Diphtheria is highly contagious and can spread through close contact with an infected person, or through coughs and sneezes.
You can also catch the bacterial infection by sharing items like cutlery, cups, bedding or clothing, with someone who is infected.
Symptoms associated with diphtheria usually begin to show 2 to 5 days after exposure. They include:
– Fever (high temperature)
– Thick grey or white coating covering the back of your nose, throat and tongue
– Sore throat
– Breathing and swallowing difficulties
– Swollen glands in the neck
Vaccination against diphtheria is usually given to infants as a combination of vaccines, like the DPT vaccine (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus). Pentavalent vaccines, which simultaneously vaccinate against five childhood diseases, inclusive of diphtheria, are mostly used by organisations like UNICEF in disease prevention programs across developing nations.
The most used treatments include:
– Antibiotics to destroy the bacteria.
– Medicines that reverse the effects brought on by toxins (harmful substances) released by the bacteria.
– Thorough cleaning of infected wounds caused by diphtheria in your skin, if any.
Treatment usually goes for up to 2-3 weeks. Skin ulcers take up to 2 to 3 months to heal but may leave scars.
You may also need to take antibiotics, or get a dose of the diphtheria vaccine if you get into close contact with an infected person.
You experience diphtheria symptoms and:
– You’re in a part of the world where diphtheria is common
– You recently visited an area where the infection is widespread
– You have been in close contact with an infected person
Diphtheria requires quick treatment in order to avoid serious health issues, such as heart problems and breathing difficulties.
Diphtheria vaccines are given at:
– 8, 12 and 16 weeks – 3 separate doses of the 6-in-1 vaccine
– 3 years & 4 months – 4-in-1 booster before school
– 14 years – 3-in-1 teenage booster
The vaccine provides protection for up to 10 years. You’ll then need to receive a booster jab to remain protected.
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