Diptheria has a 5%-10% fatality rate and usually infects people five years or younger as well as people 40 years or older. Before the vaccine, in the US, 206000 cases of Diptheria were recorded with 15520 deaths in 1921. Since the vaccine was created in 1920, only 7321 cases of diptheria have been reported in 2014 with only 2 recorded deaths.
Diptheria is a serious bacterial infection of the nose and throat usually caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium Diptheriae which releases a powerful toxin that kills cells in the mouth, nose, and throat. In an infected person, it looks like large white patches in the back of the throat and the roof of the mouth. Symptoms of Diptheria over the whole body are chills, fever, and fatigue. Respiratory, it causes noisy breathing or shortness of breath. With skin it can cause rashes or ulcers. It will also be difficult for the infected person to swallow due to the soreness, and with speech, their voice may be impaired or hoarse. Coughing, muscle weakness, runny nose, swelling, and swollen lymph nodes are more common symptoms.
The vaccine for Diptheria is called the Tdap vaccine, which also helps defend against pertussis and tetanus as well. It is an inactive vaccine, so the bacteria is dead and not deadly to its recipient.