Skip to main content

How severe is diphtheria?

Page last updated 09 July 2018

Diphtheria can be life threatening if left untreated.  

The disease can escalate from its initial phase (2-3 days) of sore throat, fever and loss of appetite to severe weakness and death (6-10 days).

Rapid and effective treatment is important, however even with treatment, about 1 out of 10 people who contract diphtheria will die.

Sources & Citations

  1. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. 4.2 Diphtheria. Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).
  2. Victorian Government. Better Health Channel. Diphtheria. Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).
  3. Centers for Disease Control. Diphtheria. Diagnosis and Treatment. Available at (accessed 7 April 2018).

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