Top of the page
Diphtheria is a contagious illness caused by a type of bacteria. It can cause breathing and swallowing problems and can damage the heart and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
Diphtheria, though rare, can be fatal if not treated.
The DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis) vaccine, given in childhood, protects against diphtheria infection. Tdap and Td vaccines are booster shots that give continued protection to teens and adults.
Current as of: July 30, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.