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Diphtheria : Clinical Guidelines

Diphtheria : Clinical Guidelines

World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday published the guidelines on the clinical management of diphtheria.

New recommendations of WHO:

  • In patients with suspected or confirmed diphtheria, WHO recommends using macrolide antibiotics (azithromycin, erythromycin) in preference to penicillin antibiotics.
  • In patients with suspected or confirmed diphtheria, WHO recommends not to perform routine sensitivity testing prior to administration of diphtheria antitoxin (DAT).
  • In patients with suspected or confirmed symptomatic diphtheria, WHO suggests an escalating dosing regimen for diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) which is based on disease severity and time since symptom onset, in comparison with a fixed dose for all patients.


  • It is a serious contagious bacterial infection of the nose and throat.
  • It is caused by strains of bacteria called Corynebacterium diphtheriae that make a toxin.
  • It can spread from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, like from coughing or sneezing.
  • People can also get sick from touching infected open sores or ulcers.
  • The bacteria can also infect the skin, causing open sores or ulcers. However, diphtheria skin infections rarely result in severe disease.
  • Although diphtheria can be treated with medications, in advanced stages, the bacterial infection can damage the heart, kidneys and nervous system.
  • Symptoms: A thick, grey membrane covering the throat and tonsils, sore throat and hoarseness, swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in the neck difficulty breathing etc