Medicine: Diphtheria Up

From the U.S. Public Health Service last week came a warning: diphtheria is on the rise. The number of cases, 10,335 so far this year, was not alarming, but it was some 2,500 above the recent norm, reversed a 25-year trend.

U.S. health officials disagree with the current British theory: that more dangerous new strains of diphtheria bacilli have developed, in the U.S., the standard treatments—immunization with toxoid injections, therapy with antitoxin—are still effective.

Officials think the rise may be due to 1) a slackening in immunization, 2) an increase in vulnerability among young adults (many recent diphtheria deaths have been among returning...

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