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Diseases DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Diphtheria Diphtheria is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth, throat, and nose of infected people. It is easily spread through coughing or sneezing. Diphtheria usually causes a sore throat, slight fever, and chills. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it can produce a powerful toxin (poison) that spreads throughout the body. This can cause serious complications such as heart failure, suffocation, paralysis, and death. Sometimes a thick membrane forms across children’s throats, making it hard to swallow or breathe. Approximately 10 percent of people who get diphtheria die from it; the death rate is even higher among young children. Diphtheria is preventable through immunization. Diphtheria once was a major cause of childhood illness and death. Because of immunizations, diphtheria is very rare in the United States. However, the disease still exists in other countries. All children should be immunized! The diphtheria vaccine is part of the DTaP injection. It usually is given to children at two months, four months, and six months of age. A booster is given at fifteen to eighteen months and again at four to six years. Another booster, the Tdap injection, is given at eleven to twelve years of age. From Hip on Health: Health Information for Caregivers and Families by Charlotte M. Hendricks. Published by Redleaf Press. 4 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL