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Diphtheria - Glossary

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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Diphtheria: A bacterial disease marked by the formation of a false membrane, especially in the throat, which can cause death.

Incubation period: The time from contact with infectious agents (bacteria or viruses) to onset of disease.

Mucosal membranes: The soft, wet tissue that lines body openings specifically the mouth, nose, rectum and vagina.

Croup: Respiratory infection with a characteristic cough.

Fever: Raised body temperature usually with other symptoms.

Myocarditis: Inflammation of the myocardium (muscle walls of the heart)

Acute: A short-term, intense health effect.

Allergy: A condition in which the body has an exaggerated response to a substance (e.g. food or drug).

Antibiotic: A substance that fights bacteria.

Antitoxin: Antibodies capable of destroying microorganisms including viruses and bacteria.

Bacteria: Tiny one-celled organisms present throughout the environment that require a microscope to be seen. While not all bacteria are harmful, some cause disease.

Arrhythmias: Irregularity in the hearts beating rhythm.


Booster shots: Additional doses of a vaccine needed periodically to "boost" the immune system. For example, the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine, is recommended for adults every ten years.

Epidemic: The occurrence of disease within a specific geographical area or population that is in excess of what is normally expected.

Immunity: Protection against a disease. There are two types of immunity, passive and active. Immunity is indicated by the presence of antibodies in the blood and can usually be determined with a laboratory test.

Infectious: Capable of spreading disease. It is also known as communicable.

Neuritis: Inflammation of the nerves.

Risk: The likelihood that an individual will experience a certain event.

Side Effect: Undesirable reaction resulting from immunization.

Vaccine: A product that produces immunity therefore protecting the body from the disease. Vaccines are administered through needle injections, by mouth and by aerosol.

Culture: A laboratory test that involves the growing of bacteria or other microorganisms to aid in the diagnosis.

Immunocompromised: An abnormal condition where one's ability to fight infection is decreased. This can be due to a disease process, certain medications, or a condition present at birth.

Inflammation: Redness, swelling, heat, and pain in a tissue due to chemical or physical injury, infection, or allergic reaction.

Lymph nodes: Part of the lymphatic system; bean-shaped organs, found in the underarm, groin, neck, and abdomen, that act as filters for the lymph fluid as it passes through them.

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