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Diphtheria (cont.)

Diphtheria Prognosis

The prognosis for diphtheria depends on the severity of the disease and the presence of systemic involvement. Cardiac involvement and bacteremia (blood infection) are especially associated with a poor prognosis. The fatality rate for respiratory diphtheria is between 5%-10%, although it appears to be higher in patients less than 5 years of age and older than 40 years of age (~20%). Airway obstruction leading to suffocation and cardiac complications are the most commons causes of death.

The prognosis for treated cutaneous diphtheria is good, with complications and death only occurring rarely.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


Doerr, Steven E. "Diphtheria." June 27, 2008. <>.

Guy, Allysia M., and Mark A. Silverberg. "Diphtheria." Oct. 5, 2009. <>.

Todar, Kenneth. "Diphtheria." Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology. 2009. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Pre-Travel Consultation Routine Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. July 27, 2009. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Diphtheria." Oct. 6, 2005. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2014
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