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April 26, 1995

Diphtheria in Russia a Reminder of Risk

Author Affiliations

JAMA Senior Editor

JAMA. 1995;273(16):1245. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520400015006

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THE ONGOING and expanding diphtheria epidemic occurring in the New Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union is a vivid reminder that infectious diseases considered to be under control in developed countries carry the potential for resurgence and for causing significant morbidity and mortality.

Moreover, this epidemic not only underscores the critical importance of routine periodic vaccinations for achieving and maintaining protective antibody levels, but also makes imminent the need for physicians in developed countries to be able to readily diagnose and treat a rarely seen disease.

See also p 1250.

Diphtheria is uncommon in the United States and in most developed countries that have successful immunization programs. According to Iain Hardy, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the National Immunization Program at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "only 40 cases of diphtheria were reported in the United States from 1980 to 1992, with 70% occurring in

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