Updated
October 2nd, 2019

DTap Vaccine Suggested When Traveling to Bangladesh

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis risks can be reduced with vaccines

Diphtheria is rapidly spreading in Bangladesh, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned.

More than 110 suspected cases, including 6 deaths, have been clinically diagnosed, reported the WHO.

"These cases could be just the tip of the iceberg.”

“This is an extremely vulnerable population with low vaccination coverage, living in conditions that could be a breeding ground for infectious diseases like cholera, measles, rubella, and diphtheria," said Dr. Navaratnasamy Paranietharan, WHO Representative to Bangladesh.

"This is why we have protected more than 700,000 people with the oral cholera vaccine, as well as more than 350,000 children with measles-rubella vaccine in a campaign that ended yesterday.”

“Now we have to deal with diphtheria," said Dr. Paranietharan.

Diphtheria’s name originates from the Greek word for “leather hide,” a reference to the gray, leather-like coating left behind in the nose and throat areas generated by the toxin diphtheria bacterium.

Since August 2017, more than 624,000 people fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar have gathered in densely populated temporary settlements with poor access to clean water, sanitation, and health services.

The WHO has procured an initial 1,000 vials of diphtheria antitoxins.

Combined with antibiotics, the antitoxins can save the lives of people already infected with diphtheria, by neutralizing the toxins produced by the deadly bacteria.

Between 2004 and 2015, only 2 cases of diphtheria were recorded in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Diphtheria is passed person-to-person through oral or respiratory droplets, close physical contact, and rarely, by fomites. The incubation period ranges between 2–5 days.

Diphtheria can be treated and cured successfully with antitoxin and antibiotics if started early enough.

An antibiotic (erythromycin or penicillin) should be used to eliminate the causative organisms, stop exotoxin production, and reduce communicability.

Antimicrobial prophylaxis (erythromycin or penicillin) is recommended for close contacts of patients.

According to the CDC, the overall case-fatality rate for diphtheria is 5%–10%.

In the United States, there are four vaccines used to prevent diphtheria: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. Each of these vaccines prevents diphtheria and tetanus.

Most pharmacies in the USA offer diphtheria vaccines.

Additionally, the CDC suggests travelers to Bangladesh be immunized for Hepatitis A and Typhoid.  

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides current HAV vaccine contract prices and general information.

Vaccine discounts can be found here.

For more information about Bangladesh, contact Gregory Hartl: [email protected].