Health officials in India have reported an outbreak of diphtheria in Delhi. According to local sources, at least 14 fatal cases have been reported as of mid-September. 11 of the fatal cases were reported at the Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital, while one fatal case was reported at Lok Nayak Hospital. Further spread of the disease in likely in the coming weeks.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheria, which primarily infects the throat and upper airways and produces a toxin affecting other organs. The illness has an acute onset and the main characteristics are sore throat, low-grade fever, and swollen glands in the neck; the toxin may, in severe cases, cause myocarditis or peripheral neuropathy. The disease is spread through direct physical human contact or from breathing in the aerosolized secretions from coughs or sneezes of infected individuals.
Individuals considering travel to Delhi are advised to confirm vaccinations are up to date and to keep abreast of the situation.