From the World Health Organization (WHO) media centre:

Statement by WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, and WFP Executive Director David Beasley

Diphtheria is spreading fast with 120 clinically diagnosed cases and 14 deaths – mostly children – in the last weeks. We have vaccines and medicines in transit to Yemen, but they are blocked from entry. At least one million children are now at risk of contracting the disease.

What is diphtheria? How is this disease spreading? Watch the following video or read the information from that video below:

Diphtheria spreads by person to person transmission through contact with respiratory secretions when an infected person coughs or sneezes and by direct contact with cutaneous lesions. People can spread the disease for up to two weeks after infection.

Respiratory diphtheria starts like a cold with sore throat, mild fever, and chills. Next the diphtheria toxin makes a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat. It may be blue or greyish-green. The coating on the throat can get so thick that it blocks the airways so the person can’t breathe.

The diphtheria toxin can even attack the heart causing abnormal heart rhythms and even heart failure. It can also attack the nerves which leads to paralysis.

According to the CDC, about 1 out of 10 people who get diphtheria dies. As many as 1 out of 5 children (under 5 years) with the condition die.