Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Diphtheria is an uncommon but potentially deadly disease. As children, we have all been vaccinated against this disease, but did you know that adults should get a booster vaccination every 10 years? Dr. Edward Hill tells you why in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can spread through the bloodstream and lead to potentially life-threatening complications affecting the heart, kidneys and central nervous system. Patients who dont get treated suffer a death rate of 40 to 50 percent.

Diphtheria is easily passed from the infected person to others through sneezing, coughing or even laughing. It also can be spread to others who pick up tissues or drinking glasses that have been used by the infected person.

Children under 5 years old and adults over 60 are particularly at risk for contracting diphtheria, as are those living in crowded or unsanitary conditions and children and adults who do not have up-to-date immunizations.

Children in this country have been immunized against diphtheria for decades. Adults also need diphtheria boosters every 10 years to maintain their immunity. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of adults have lost their immunity to diphtheria.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.