Diphtheria is an acute infectious and communicable disease involving primarily the tonsils, pharynx, larynx, or nose, and occasionally other mucous membranes or skin. A false membrane is formed in one or more of these locations. This is the site of production of the diphtheria toxin, which is responsible for the general symptomatology and subsequent damage of many organs, including cardiac and central nervous system tissue. Although the incidence of the disease has declined substantially with improved immunization, the continuing occurrence of cases in most countries and the relatively high case-fatality ratios of 5–10% emphasize its importance.


Diphtheria Toxin Diphtheria Toxoid Cutaneous Form Corynebacterium Diphtheriae American Indian Population 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul F. Wehrle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Southern California and Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA

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