I saw the news video on CNN today of Anderson Cooper interviewing Sean Penn in Haiti about the death of the Haitian there of diptheria. That was a preventable death. I am adding in content here about diphtheria to help teach what to look for as a way of promoting life by preventing deaths.
Some info on diptheria:
The cause of diptheria is corynebacterium diptheriae which is an
'obligate ' [meaning to bind] parasite of man,that may be transmitted
either directly or indirectly. Since it usually resides [when infected] in the
upper respiratory tract, it is usually spread by droplet via contaminated
hands, tissues, handkerchiefs, sneezing or coughing, methods that put
droplets of contamination into the air. Discharges from an infected
patient are contagious. Some people could be carriers of the disease
without having clinical manifestations of disease.
IN a susceptible person when exposes to the disease, the bacteria
multiply in the epithelial cells of the pharynx, and excretes toxin as it
grows.The toxin [poison] poisons the tissues and cells and they die. As it continues to grow, it stimulates an inflammatory process
in the infected person and it also produces the typical diptheritic
membrane. As it continues the toxins spread into the general blood stream
[circulation pumped by heart] and then prostration [not being able to stand
up] occurs. Mechanical obstruction [blocking] of the airway of either
the nasopharynx and trachea may result.The toxin acts directly on the
nerve cells in cranium [skull] and body, and also on the heart itself sometimes
causing cardiac failure. If the airway is obstructed totally at the level
of the trachea then death by suffocation occurs.
It has a relatively short incubation period of 1-4 days with the outside
limit of 7 days. That means if an infected person has not had clinical
signs of disease within seven days of being exposed to it,they are not
considered to be at risk after seven days.The onset of clinical manifestations
of diptheria are abrupt and usually accompanied by mild-moderate fever.
Then chilliness, malaise [a vague undefined feeling of being not well]
and mild sore throat. Swallowing is usually painless. A pseudo [false]
membrane appears that appears as a thick gelatine-like stuff on one
of the tonsils then spreads to the other tonsil if not treated.
The treatment is anti-toxin in adequate amounts of 10,000-25,000 Units
for mild cases, 25,000-50,000 for moderately infected, and 50,000-
100,000 for severe cases. Because antitoxins are produced from horses
there is a risk that anaphylaxis could occur. Anaphylaxis is an
allergic reaction so severe as to stop the heart and respirations
leading to sudden death.
This information is reworded to make it easy for those not trained in
medicine or nursing to understand,but the basic info is from the medical
textbook of A Textbook of Medicine by Cecil & Loeb.
Posted by Gloria Poole, RN, at home in Missouri; 9:48 AM-10-May-2010-