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Causes and Transmission

Young adult sneezing

Diphtheria is a infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria.

Diphtheria is spread (transmitted) from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, from coughing or sneezing. Rarely, spreading may occur from skin lesions (like an abnormal sore) or clothes that are contaminated with discharges from lesions (like a sore) of an infected person.

A person also can get infected with diphtheria by coming in contact with an object, like a toy, that has been contaminated with the bacteria that cause diphtheria.