Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease caused by the toxin-producing bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It usually affects the respiratory tract (primarily the larynx, tonsils and throat). It may also affect the skin, and the toxin produced by this bacteria can damage the nerves and heart. The disease is now rare in many parts of the world because of widespread immunization.
Update Date 2/1/2012
Updated by: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine.