Diphtheria in Belgium: 2010–2017

Helena Martini, Oriane Soetens, David Litt, Norman Fry, Liselot Detemmerman, Ingrid Wybo, Isabelle Desombere, Androulla Efstratiou, Denis Piérard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In Western Europe, the incidence of both respiratory and cutaneous diphtheria, caused by toxin-producing Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Corynebacterium ulcerans or Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, has been low over the past few decades thanks to the use of an effective vaccine and a high level of vaccination coverage. However, the disease has still not been eradicated and continues to occur in all of Europe. In order to prevent sequelae or a fatal outcome, diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) should be administered to suspected diphtheria patients as soon as possible, but economic factors and issues concerning regulations have led to poor availability of DAT in many countries. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and World Health Organization have called for European Union-wide solutions to this DAT-shortage. In order to illustrate the importance of these efforts and underline the need for continued diphtheria surveillance, we present data on all registered cases of toxigenic and non-toxigenic C. diphtheriae, C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis in Belgium during the past decade, up to and including 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1517-1525
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Part of this work was performed in the frame of the Belgian National Reference Centre for toxigenic corynebacteria supported by the Belgian Ministry of Social Affairs through a fund within the Health Insurance System.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors


  • Corynebacteria, Corynebacterium diphtheriae
  • Corynebacterium ulcerans
  • Croup
  • DAT
  • Diphtheria


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