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Diphtheria on children

Updated on November 7, 2008

Diphtheria on children

Causes, signs, symptoms

This dangerous disease is caused by bacteria which grows in the pharynx and tonsils. It is spread by droplet infection. It starts slowly and makes the child ill for a few days with fever and cough. Fever is mild but the child is more ill than you expect him or her to be. The throat is sore and swallowing is diffi­cult. The infection makes the neck swell, the mouth smells bad, and grey lesions cover the tonsils. These grey lesions look like dirty grey cloth stuck to the mucosa of the phar­ynx. A child with diphtheria can die because the bacteria in the throat can make a toxin which harms the heart. If the heart stops working, the child dies suddenly. Sometimes the toxin paralyzes the palate, so that fluid comes out of the nose when the child tries to swallow.


A child with diphtheria is very ill. Send him or her to a hospital; for he or she needs nursing in bed and diphtheria antitoxin. Diphtheria is contagious and could spread among family members; thus brothers and sisters need antitoxin too.


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