Diphtheria is a very contagious and serious disease caused by bacteria called Cornebacterium Diphtheriae.

The bacteria are spread very easily from person to person by coughing or sneezing, and are found in the mouth, throat and nose of an infected person.

The common symptoms of diphtheria include sore throat, runny nose, swollen glands in your baby’s neck, a thick grey coating covering his throat and tonsils, high temperature and chills, a struggle to breathe, and tiredness. Symptoms usually happen two to five days after contact with an infected person.

Diphtheria is a serious illness and can result in permanent organ damage, paralysis, nerve damage, pneumonia and heart failure. Sometimes (though rare in Ireland), diphtheria can affect your baby’s skin and a chronic ulcer can develop.

Out of every 10 people who get diphtheria, 1 will die from the disease even with treatment. Without treatment, half of all patients can die. For children the disease is worse, with 2 out of every 10 dying even if they receive treatment. The 6-in-1 vaccine protects children from the bacteria that cause diphtheria.