Monday, July 1, 2019

VIDEO: Defend Yourself From Diphtheria: Bacterial Infection Can Stop Breathing

Editor's Note: This video is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. posts a video about a different disease each month. Some of the diseases featured will include: FluMeaslesPneumococcal diseaseHuman papillomavirus (HPV)Chickenpox and shinglesPertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis ARubella (also known as German measles), RotavirusPolioMumpsTetanus, Hepatitis B, and Meningococcal B and more.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.

In the video above, Philip Huang, MD  –a Dallas public health and preventive health specialist and member of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) Council on Science and Public Health explains what diphtheria is, the severity of the infection, and the recommended vaccines to help people avoid this disease.

Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It can spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, touching infected people's open sores, or sharing a drink. People who contract diphtheria typically experience symptoms within two to five days, including: runny nose, sore throat, hoarseness, fever, chills, and most notably, diphtheria affects breathing. This is because diphtheria's bacteria can attach to a person's respiratory tract and produce a toxin (poison) that makes breathing and swallowing difficult. In addition to respiratory failure, the toxin can also damage the heart, nerves, kidneys– and even cause paralysis. If diphtheria isn't treated right away, it can be deadly.

Diphtheria cases reached their peak in the early 20th century. The infection affected more than 200,000 people and killed 15,000 in the U.S. in 1920. The number of cases significantly decreased once the vaccine, became routine for children in the 1940s.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 7,100 cases were reported worldwide in 2016.

The most effective way to protect prevent diphtheria is by vaccination. There are four different vaccines available, and people of all age groups can get the shot. The CDC recommends the following vaccines:

  • Infants and children under the age of 7: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) at 2, 4, and 6 months; 15 to 18 months; and between 4 to 6 years of age.  They can also receive the DT (diphtheria and tetanus) vaccine.
  • Older children (age 11 and older) and adults: Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and later, Td (tetatnus and diphtheria) booster vaccines.
  • Doctors can also recommend adults get a Tdap booster shot every 10 years. Expectant women are advised to get Tdap during pregnancy.
Diphtheria is an infection that can easily be avoided  – familiarize yourself with how it spreads, and protect yourself with vaccines.

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