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Diphtheria spreads through respiratory droplets produced by a cough or sneeze from an infected person, or from someone who carries the bacteria, but has no symptoms. Vaccinated individuals are still able to spread the bacteria because vaccination does not eliminate carriage of Corynebacterium diphtheriae in the back of the throat or on the skin.  

Diphtheria can also be transmitted if a person touches a wound of a person with diphtheria or by touching objects contaminated with the bacteria.  Diphtheria can reoccur in individuals who have already had the disease. 

C. diphtheriae is exclusive to humans, and most who have it are asymptomatic. The disease is extremely rare in U.S. and other developed countries with good sanitation. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Diphtheria and the Diphtheria vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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