Diphtheritic is caused by a toxin producing virus called Corynebacterium Diphtheriae and is spread from human-to-human. The mode of transfer is respiratory secretions or cutaneous lesions.
Diphtheritic is a biphasic disease with initial symptoms of fever, sore throat, swollen neck, nasal twang or ipsilateral palatal paralysis. Other early symptoms include changed hazel quality of voice. There can be loss of palatal reflex, followed by paralysis of accommodation. Though pupil reflexes, facial nerves and hypoglossal nerves are unheard of, an oculomotor paralysis and abducing nerves scenario may occur. During the 5th to 7th week after infection, generalized polyneuritis that resembles acute infective polyneuritis may occur. Motor weakness is a major concern and there may be foot or wrist drop. Sensory loss, tenderness of calf muscles and postural impairment are also possible. As the infection progresses, it may lead to diaphragmatic paralysis.
If the doctor suspects a diphtheritic illness based on a physical exam, he or she would try to listen to the lungs functioning with the help of a stethoscope to check for abnormal sounds or wheezing. He or she may also use a pulse oximetry to monitor the level of oxygen available in the bloodstream. Various blood tests to check white cell counts and to look for other bacteria and virus may also be undertaken. Chest X-rays and lab tests for respiratory secretions from the nose may also be tested.
The primary treatment to cure the infected body is by medication that helps increase CSF proteins. While there is no need for increase in overall cell count, anti-diphtheritic serum must be administered at the earliest. Extreme care must be taken in order to manage palatal and respiratory paralysis.
Patients, who survive respiratory paralysis, recover completely over time. However, inter current respiratory infections still carries terrible prognosis. Healing from diphtheritic may take from several weeks to months.
Diphtheria is preventable by vaccination. However, there is limited recognition of the illness among medical workers
The treatment costs would include the doctor service fee, over-the-counter medication like acetaminophen or brufen and antibiotics. For severe cases, there would be a cost of the hospital room fee, intravenous (IV) fluids and humidified oxygen.