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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.
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