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Diagnosis of Diphtheria

Written by Dr. Sangamithra, MBBS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sunil Shroff, MBBS, MS, FRCS (UK), D. Urol (Lond) on Apr 08, 2016
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Diagnosis of Diphtheria

Diphtheria can be diagnosed usually by proper clinical examination, throat culture from the infected area and blood tests:

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  • Physical examination may reveal the characteristic gray membrane (pseudomembrane) in the throat, enlarged lymph glands and swelling of the neck or larynx.
  • Presumptive rapid diagnosis in which methylene blue and Gram stain or immunofluorescent staining is done on the throat cultures to detect the bacteria.
  • Definitive identification and diagnosis: a sample of the pseudomembrane is taken and allowed to grow on Loeffler or tellurite selective media, and metachromic granules can be observed with Loeffler stain.
  • Toxin A subunit production can be demonstrated in vitro by Elek plate test, polymerase chain reaction probes and in vivo by guinea pig inoculation test.
  • In case of blood count there is moderate leukocytosis and possible thrombocytopenia.
  • Cardiac enzyme, serum aspartate transaminase (AST) helps to detect myocarditis.

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