A woman from Vysočina region contracted diphtheria from a domestic animal


An older woman from the Vysočina region contracted diphtheria from a domestic animal. On Tuesday, the regional sanitary station said that the infection had been cured with antibiotics. The infection has not been confirmed in other people in risky contact. The animal was also treated. The hygiene authority does not want to specify which animal.

The infected woman had weakened immunity due to another chronic disease.

“The patient was given antibiotic treatment. Clinical examination subsequently confirmed that doctors managed to cure the disease in the patient,” said Jan Pečinka, director of regional hygiene.

Several people who were in contact with the infected woman also underwent examinations with the collection of samples. The infection was not confirmed in any of them, nor were the results of the tests negative in the family members and medical staff who cared for the patient. “Therefore, there was no further spread of the dangerous bacteria that causes diphtheria among them,” said Hana Pavlasová, director of the regional hygiene department in Vysočina.

The animal from which the woman contracted the disease is currently under the care of a veterinarian.

“At this moment, we can say that the infection was not transmitted after contact with a foreign national or another person. It was probably a coincidence that an elderly individual with weakened immunity met the source of the infection, and the disease broke out. However, this is still a rare case, and there is no need to cause any panic among the public,” Pečinka concluded.

As the State Health Institute director, Barbora Macková, reminded us, thanks to the mandatory vaccination against diphtheria, the population is vaccinated. The infection is well treatable with antibiotics if detected early. Animal-to-human transmission is rare in Europe and mainly involves immunocompromised or unvaccinated people.

Diphtheria can take different clinical forms. It most often starts with fever, weakness, and sore throat, and over time, white-yellow infected areas appear on the mucous membrane, which cannot be removed without damaging the tissue and can spread.