Get us in your inbox

Photograph: Shutterstock

‘Highly contagious’ diphtheria is apparently on the rise – here are the symptoms to look out for

More than 50 cases have been identified so far

Written by
Faima Bakar

Most of us have been vaccinated against diphtheria since inoculations were introduced in 1942. But the respiratory infection may now be on the rise. At least 50 cases have been detected over the past year and the disease could spread further unless action is taken.

According to the Health Security Agency (UKHSA), there were around 50 cases identified among asylum seekers who arrived in England over the past 11 months, compared with an average of 2 to 11 cases in the country per year over the past decade.

The government has been criticised for the overcrowded and ‘wretched’ conditions at a migrant holding facility in Manston, Kent, where cases of the disease have been found.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease that affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin. It can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of diphtheria, which usually kick in two to three days after infection, include:

  • a thick grey-white coating that may cover the back of your throat, nose and tongue
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • sore throat
  • swollen glands in your neck
  • difficulty breathing and swallowing

ICYMI: a ‘Beast from the East’ is on the way and we might be getting four inches of snow.

Plus: 100 British companies are introducing a permanent four-day working week.

Latest news


    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!