Diphtheria risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Kalsang Dolma, M.B.B.S.[2], Aysha Anwar, M.B.B.S[3]


Common risk factors in the development of diphtheria include a lack of immunization, a history of travel to areas endemic for diphtheria, exposure to overcrowding and/or poor sanitary conditions, and immunocompromised status.[1][2][3][4][5]

Risk factors

Common risk factors in the development of diphtheria may include:[1][2][3][4][5]

  • Lack of immunization
  • History of contact with diphtheria patients
  • Presence of skin lesions
  • Presence of eczema
  • History of chronic health conditions
  • History of travel to areas endemic for diphtheria
  • Overcrowding
  • Exposure to poor sanitary conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Sharing utensils and fomites with person suffering from diphtheria
  • Presence of tonsils


  1. 1.0 1.1 Quick ML, Sutter RW, Kobaidze K, Malakmadze N, Nakashidze R, Murvanidze S; et al. (2000). "Risk factors for diphtheria: a prospective case-control study in the Republic of Georgia, 1995-1996". J Infect Dis. 181 Suppl 1: S121–9. doi:10.1086/315563. PMID 10657203.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vitek CR, Brennan MB, Gotway CA, Bragina VY, Govorukina NV, Kravtsova ON; et al. (1999). "Risk of diphtheria among schoolchildren in the Russian Federation in relation to time since last vaccination". Lancet. 353 (9150): 355–8. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(98)03488-6. PMID 9950440.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Koopman JS, Campbell J (1975). "The role of cutaneous diphtheria infections in a diphtheria epidemic". J Infect Dis. 131 (3): 239–44. PMID 805182.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Belsey MA, Sinclair M, Roder MR, LeBlanc DR (1969). "Corynebacterium diphtheriae skin infections in Alabama and Louisiana. A factor in the epidemiology of diphtheria". N Engl J Med. 280 (3): 135–41. doi:10.1056/NEJM196901162800304. PMID 4972946.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Favorova LA (1969). "The risk of infection in droplet infections. The influence of overcrowding and prolonged contact on transmission of the diphtheria pathogen". J Hyg Epidemiol Microbiol Immunol. 13 (1): 73–82. PMID 5814141.

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