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The Role of Cutaneous Diphtheria Infections in a Diphtheria Epidemic

James S. Koopman and Joyce Campbell
The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Vol. 131, No. 3 (Mar., 1975), pp. 239-244
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30081572
Page Count: 6
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The Role of Cutaneous Diphtheria Infections in a Diphtheria Epidemic
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Abstract

Twenty-four people with diphtheria and 48 carriers were found in an isolated, circumscribed, rural area during a one-month period. Four patients had cutaneous lesions, which were similar to those of typical impetigo, from which Corynebacterium diphtheriae was isolated. These cases constituted an epidemiologic focus from which the other cases were infected. Ten of 52 classroom contacts of two patients with skin infections harbored C. diphtheriae in the pharynx, while only eight of 132 classroom contacts of eight respiratory cases were similarly infected. Respiratory carriage of C. diphtheriae in five of 12 Headstart classroom contacts of another patient with cutaneous infection also demonstrated the contagiousness of cutaneous infections with C. diphtheriae in the classroom situation. A tendency toward greater environmental contamination by cutaneous diphtheria than by respiratory diphtheria might be related to the greater contagiousness of the cutaneous cases.

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