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Diphtheria is a potentially fatal contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin.

Diphtheria is highly contagious. It’s spread by coughs and sneezes, or by contact with someone with diphtheria or items belonging to them, such as bedding or clothing.

The infection is usually caught after being in close or prolonged contact with someone who has the condition or is carrying the infection. For example, you may catch diphtheria from someone you live with.

However, diphtheria is very rare in England because most people have been vaccinated against it. 


All children should be vaccinated against diphtheria as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule.Adults should consider having a booster vaccine when travelling to parts of the world where diphtheria is widespread.

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