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ALERT ENDS: Update on the Possible Outbreak of Diphtheria in Delaware County, PA

The following letter sent to the Society is especially pertinent for primary care staff, including internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, emergency medicine, neurology, infectious disease, and laboratory medicine and all infection control personnel. It refers to a recent alert on a possible diphtheria epidemic.

Dear Colleagues,

This is a follow-up to the broadcast fax circulated by the New York City Department of Health on March 16, 2001, about two possible diphtheria cases in Pennsylvania (Delaware County) residents — we have received documentation that the laboratory testing for Corynebacterium diphtheriae was negative. Similarly, the household contacts of the cases that visited New York City were also confirmed not to have diphtheria. We are therefore ending this alert as there is no reason to suspect an increased likelihood of diphtheria cases.

Early detection and rapid implementation of control measures is the cornerstone to limiting the spread and scale of possible outbreaks of communicable diseases, including those that are vaccine–preventable. We appreciate your ongoing cooperation in reporting suspect cases to the New York City Department of Health and would like to thank the medical and laboratory communities for your continued support.

Please contact the Immunization Program if you have any questions (during business hours: (212) 676–2259; after hours, contact the Poison Control Center at (212) 764–7667).


Jane R. Zucker, MD, MSc, Medical Director
Immunization Program
Bureau of Disease Intervention Services

Stephen Friedman, MD, Assistant
Commissioner, Immunization Program
Bureau of Disease Intervention Services

Posted 04-03-2001 at 11:51AM

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