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Diphtheria (vaccine-preventable)


Diphtheria is a bacterial disease characterized by a thick membrane in the back of the throat.  Most complications of diphtheria, including death, are attributable to the effects of the toxin.  Diphtheria can also cause skin infections, but only respiratory disease is reportable. It is now a rare disease in the United States. Vaccines are recommended for infants, children, teens and adults to prevent diphtheria.



Disease Reporting

What is required?

Health care providers and clinical laboratories:
Health care providers and clinical laboratories are required by law to report cases and suspect cases of diphtheria to local health departments immediately, day or night, after identification. Call 971-673-1111 to reach the state health department doctor on call.

Cases are subject to restriction on school and day-care attendance, food handling, and patient care while in the communicable stage of the disease. Diphtheria requires special isolation procedures. If sufficient measures have been taken to prevent transmission, or the disease is no longer communicable, worksite, child-care and school restrictions can be removed by the local public health authority.

Disease reporting (pdf) form for health-care practitioners

See disease reporting page for information on how to report and for telephone numbers of local health departments.

For county health departments:
Diphtheria: Disease Investigative Guidelines (pdf)
Diphtheria: case report form (pdf)

For reportable diseases lacking Oregon-specific investigative guidelines or case report forms, please contact the epidemiologist on call for assistance.


See Also