Diphtheria: guidance, data and analysis

The diagnosis, vaccination, surveillance epidemiology of diphtheria.

Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease of humans that affects the upper respiratory tract and occasionally the skin, caused by the action of diphtheria toxin produced by toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae or by Corynebacterium ulcerans.

Diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease. The routine childhood immunisation schedule includes vaccination against diphtheria.

For symptoms and general information on diphtheria, visit NHS.UK.

It is a notifiable disease in England and Wales. Health professionals must inform local health protection teams of suspected cases.

Diagnosis and management

A diphtheria training slide set including information on recent epidemiology, guidance, investigation and management is available to download.

A diphtheria training slide set for laboratory testing is available to download.

Vaccination guidance and incident resources

Data collection

Epidemiology and surveillance

Updates to this page

Published 1 April 2014
Last updated 16 November 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated diphtheria slide set and added new laboratory slide set.

  2. Updated diphtheria slide set.

  3. Added 'Public health management of toxigenic C. ulcerans in companion animals'.

  4. Added 'Infectious diseases in asylum seekers: actions for health professionals'.

  5. Added 'Diphtheria: cases among asylum seekers in England, 2022'.

  6. Added 'Diphtheria disease and azithromycin: PGD template', 'Diphtheria vaccination resources' and 'Diphtheria warn and inform letter'.

  7. Added link to diphtheria slide set.

  8. Added 'Diphtheria anti-toxin (DAT): information for healthcare professionals'.

  9. Added Diphtheria in England annual reports.

  10. First published.