Should you need urgent health advice please contact your GP or call NHS 111. In an emergency please visit A&E or call 999

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In October 2022 the UK Health Security Agency highlighted a small number of cases of diphtheria confirmed amongst persons newly arrived in the UK.

This is being treated and contained and does not appear to pose a significant risk to the wider population. However, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to know what to do if you suspect an infection

Symptoms usually start 2 to 5 days after becoming infected and can 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
  • pus-filled blisters on your legs, feet and hands
  • large ulcers surrounded by red, sore-looking skin

Babies are offered the diphtheria vaccination as part of routine childhood vaccinations at 8, 12 & 16 weeks old. If you are unsure whether your child has had the diphtheria vaccination, please contact your GP surgery.

Urgent advice: Get urgent medical help if you have symptoms of Diphtheria and:

  • you’re in an area of the world where the infection is widespread
  • you have recently returned from somewhere where the infection is widespread
  • you have been in close contact with someone who has diphtheria

Diphtheria needs to be treated quickly with antibiotics to help prevent serious complications. People who have been in close contact with someone who has diphtheria may also need antibiotics or may be offered a dose of the diphtheria vaccination.

For more information, please visit the NHS website.

ParentLine logo

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-5 years called ParentLine. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4.30pm in Brighton & Hove and Monday to Friday between 9am to 4.30pm in West Sussex, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a health visitor within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

This page was last reviewed on 17-08-2023

This page will be next reviewed on 17-08-2026