How is it spread?
When someone comes in contact with infected air droplets.
Can it be prevented?
The only prevention is the vaccine. The shot is administered every 10 years and is often given the same time as the tetanus and pertussis shots. You cannot receive the disease from the vaccine.
It is caused by bacteria that produce poison which is transported through the bloodstream. The bloodstream carries it to your mouth, throat and nose. In the throat a membrane may grow, making it difficult to swallow and breathe. It also causes heart damage or failure, paralysis of the lungs, and most likely death for children.
This is a very rare disease nowadays with only 41 cases between 1980 and 1995.
Diphtheria was once the most common cause of death in America for children.
The disease thrives in unsanitary, crowded areas, and the symptoms don’t appear until 2-11 days after contracting the disease.
The disease is almost often fatal; 1 out of every 10 people will die from it.
Despite what some think, you are not immunized in any way if you have survived the disease.
Link to History
In colonial times, diphtheria plagued early American settlers to the point where over half of the population died out. They also, sadly, unwillingly spread it to the Native Americans living nearby and their populations were even more devastated because they had no immunity to it whatsoever. It wiped out entire villages and settlements and was a very common cause of death for everyone during those times.