Fatal respiratory diphtheria in a U.S. traveler to Haiti--Pennsylvania, 2003.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Jan 09; 52(53):1285-6.MM
Respiratory diphtheria can be severe or fatal in unvaccinated persons; even with appropriate treatment, 5%-10% of patients with diphtheria die. For >50 years, vaccination against diphtheria has been recommended for children and adults in the United States. Persons who are unvaccinated or vaccinated inadequately can contract diphtheria during travel to areas where the disease is endemic, putting them and their close contacts at risk for severe illness. This report describes fatal respiratory diphtheria in an unvaccinated Pennsylvania resident who had visited Haiti, a country where the disease is endemic. The case highlights the need for all international travelers to be up-to-date with all recommended vaccinations, including a primary series of diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine.