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Diphtheria on the Rise in Haiti After Hurricane Matthew

December 14, 2016

Diphtheria, like tetanus, is commonly vaccinated against in the United States and as a result is extraordinarily rare. Your standard booster shots for tetanus also contain a diphtheria booster. But in places with low immunization levels, diphtheria is highly contagious since it can easily be passed from person to person via coughing and sneezing.

Anchelo smiling

Anchelo is healthy again after a fight with diphtheria.

SBHF has seen two cases of diphtheria since Hurricane Matthew. In the wake of natural disasters we expect to see a rise in infectious diseases like diphtheria, cholera, and typhoid, since the health and sanitation infrastructure has been so weakened.

Although diphtheria has a high mortality rate, with proper intensive treatment many patients who were otherwise healthy can survive the disease. We are happy to report that both of our young diphtheria patients have responded well to treatment. One, six year old Anchelo is already home again with his family, and the other is on his way back to health.