Case Report: Pharyngeal Diphtheria in a Pregnant Woman from South India

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  • 1 Cauvery Multispeciality Hospital, Mysore, India;
  • | 2 Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, Mysore, India
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Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease and is caused by toxigenic strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Several case reports have been published in the recent years, and this resurgence of cases has occurred mainly in adolescent and adult populations. Also, several research articles have reported waning immunity against diphtheria in adults who have completed childhood immunization. Thus, it is an important need to conduct larger sero-surveillance studies to understand the cause of rising diphtheria cases. Here, we report a case of a 23-year-old pregnant women of 8 weeks’ gestation who presented to the outpatient department with fever, severe throat pain, odynophagia, dysphagia, neck pain, and neck swelling of 3 days’ duration. On clinical examination, a gray, leathery membrane was noted on the soft palate. An Albert’s stain from the membrane revealed organisms resembling Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Appropriate treatment was initiated immediately, and follow-up examination at 2 weeks from date of discharge was uneventful. The gray membrane had completely resolved. Contact tracing was done and the appropriate antimicrobial agent was administered. This case study indicates the importance of timely clinical and microbiological diagnosis and reinforces the previously reported resurgence of diphtheria infection.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to R. Deepashree, Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, Mysore, 570004, India. E-mail:

Authors’ addresses: Suhas S. Pattar, Cauvery Multispeciality Hospital, Mysore, India, E-mail:; R. Deepashree, M. N. Sumana, S. R. Sujatha, A. Tejashree, Rao Raghavendra, Neetha and Murthy, Department of Microbiology, JSS Medical College, Mysore, India, E-mails:,,,,, and