Diphtheria

An infection that’s very rare today, because routine childhood vaccination (plus adult booster shots) has eliminated it.ย  However,ย  it’s still present in poor areas of the world, and in parts of the former Soviet Union.ย  It’s the disease that struck Nome, Alaska, in 1925, when dog teams carried life-saving antitoxin to the town (celebrated now in part by the famous Iditarod dogsled race, and children’s books/videos about dog Balto, who garnered a statue in NYC’s Central Park).

There may be a slight fever, but mainly sore throat and swollen glands.ย  We’d suspect the illness if we see a grayish membrane covering the tonsils & back of the throat; in severe cases, it can cause suffocation.ย  Other complications of Diphtheria include heart disease or paralysis.ย  Certain antibiotics cure the infection (but not penicillin or amoxicillin); special antitoxin may also be necessary.

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