Diphtheria is predominantly a disease of childhood that is caused by infection with the Corynebacterium diphtheriae. This bacterial infectious disease only occurs in humans and is spread through direct person-to-person contact, mostly by droplets when coughing or sneezing.
People can get diphtheria at any age and suffer from serious health consequences if they do not have adequate immunisation, i.e. if they are not vaccinated at all or are insufficiently vaccinated.
Some diphtheria bacteria produce a toxin which can cause permanent damage to internal organs such as the heart and the liver. People who become infected with diphtheria are therefore advised to completely cure the disease in order to avoid life-threatening long-term consequences for the heart.
The most effective protection against the disease is a vaccination. According to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), vaccination against diphtheria (D), together with tetanus (T) and whooping cough (P), is part of the recommended basic vaccinations in the immunisation scheme administered within the first few months of life. The DTP vaccine should be refreshed at the age of 25, 45 and 65 and thereafter every 10 years.
If you have any further questions, please contact your physician.