Diphtheria is an acute and highly infectious disease , affecting children particularly , characterized by the formation of a false membrane in the passages of the upper respiratory system such as throat and trachea . The cause of the disease is corynebacterium diphtheria , a bacillus discovered in 1883 , which is a straight or slightly curved rod shaped bacterium with swollen ends. The diphtheria bacilli enter the body through the mouth and nose and attack the mucous membranes , where they multiply and secrete a powerful toxin . The toxin damages the heart and central nervous system and canlead to death .
Beginning about five days after exposure
Many Antitoxin have been given to infants during the first year of life as a part of combined injection , these toxoids immunize the children against serious infection and have drastically reduced the incidence of diphtheria in most parts of the world .
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