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How common is diphtheria now?

Page last updated 09 July 2018

Due to routine vaccination diphtheria is now rare in Australia and other developed countries. However, in the cases that are reported diphtheria is now more commonly seen in adults than in children.

Although rare in Australia, diphtheria still occurs in many developing countries. In particular, Asia, the South Pacific, the Middle East, and in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Outbreaks have occurred in Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, South Africa, Sudan, and Pakistan since 2011.

If you are planning an overseas trip, make sure you are up-to-date with your immunisations.


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Sources & Citations

  1. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. 4.2 Diphtheria. Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).
  2. National Immunisation Program Schedule. Australian Government, Department of Health. Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).
  3. Australian Government. Department of Health. Australia’s notifiable disease status, 2014: Annual report of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (main page). Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).
  4. Victorian Government. Better Health Channel. Diphtheria. Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).
  5. Centers for Disease Control. Travellers’ Health. Diphtheria. Available at: (accessed 3 May 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0134a - Date of preparation May 2018