Diphtheria: Symptoms

1- Diphtheria angina

Diphtheria angina is the most classic manifestation of the disease. Generally not very feverish, it is accompanied by a pallor, ganglions in the neck, and headaches.
At the back of the throat, there are whitish deposits, called "false membranes, " adhering to the tonsils and the soft palate. These false membranes can reach the uvula, the pharynx, and sometimes even the larynx. In this case, diphtheria can cause coughing, difficulty speaking and breathing.

2 - Cutaneous diphtheria

Diphtheria can be localized on the skin, preferably on old wounds or scars. With always the same symptoms: the presence of false membranes. Less known than diphtheria angina, the diagnosis must be evoked in front of an atypical ulcer when returning from an infested area.

3 - The other symptoms

A few days after angina, diphtheria toxin may reach the heart, kidneys and nerves. It can cause myocarditis, inflammation of the kidney (glomerulonephritis), or paralysis by nerve damage (polyradiculoneuropathy). In the absence of treatment, the disease is fatal in 2 to 20% of cases.

4 - The biological sample

To confirm the medical diagnosis, it is necessary to perform a nasopharyngeal or cutaneous sampling. In the laboratory, the culture and isolation of the bacteria sometimes require several days.

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