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Diphtheria (Corynebacterium diphtheriae)
1995 Case Definition

NOTE: A surveillance case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance. Surveillance case definitions enable public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. Surveillance case definitions are not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.

Clinical Description

An upper respiratory tract illness characterized by sore throat, low-grade fever, and an adherent membrane of the tonsil(s), pharynx, and/or nose

Laboratory Criteria for Diagnosis

  • Isolation of Corynebacterium diphtheriae from a clinical specimen, OR
  • Histopathologic diagnosis of diphtheria

Case Classification

Probable

A clinically compatible case that is not laboratory confirmed and is not epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case

Confirmed

A clinically compatible case that is either laboratory confirmed or epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case

Comments

Cutaneous diphtheria should not be reported. Respiratory disease caused by nontoxigenic C. diphtheriae should be reported as diphtheria. All diphtheria isolates, regardless of association with disease, should be sent to the Diphtheria Laboratory, National Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.

The 1995 case definition appearing on this page was re-published in the 1997 MMWR Recommendations and Reports titled Case Definitions for Infectious Conditions Under Public Health Surveillance.1 Thus, the 1995 and 1997 versions of the case definition are identical

Reference(s)

  1. CDC. (1997). Case Definitions for Infectious Conditions Under Public Health Surveillance. MMWR, 46(RR-10), 1-55. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00047449.htm


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