from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An acute infectious disease caused by the bacillus Corynebacterium diphtheriae, characterized by the production of a systemic toxin and the formation of a false membrane on the lining of the mucous membrane of the throat and other respiratory passages, causing difficulty in breathing, high fever, and weakness. The toxin is particularly harmful to the tissues of the heart and central nervous system.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A highly infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract characterised by a sore throat, fever, and difficulty breathing, its symptoms being due to a potent toxin excreted by the infecting agent Corynebacterium diphtheriae.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A very dangerous contagious disease in which the air passages, and especially the throat, become coated with a false membrane, produced by the solidification of an inflammatory exudation. Cf. group.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An infectious disease, characterized by the formation over the affected and inflamed parts of a firm whitish or grayish pellicle, or false membrane (which is removed with difficulty and leaves a raw surface), and by general prostration.
- n. Diphtheria is caused by a specific bacillus, called Bacillus diphtheriæ, or the Klebs-Loeffier bacillus, which usually can readily be detected in the exudate by microscopical methods. The search for this organism has become a routine measure in doubtful cases of inflammation of the upper air-passages, and often a positive diagnosis of such conditions can be made only in this way. The disease begins with swelling and redness of the throat, fever, and loss of strength. The false membrane appears early and may be confined to the tonsils or may spread to the mucous membrane of the nose, pharynx, or larynx. When the larynx is involved, the breathing becomes difficult, and suffocation may ensue. Formerly the only means of saving life in this complication was tracheotomy, but this has been almost entirely superseded by intubation. The disease may be followed by paralysis, by weakness of the heart, or by disease of the kidneys. Treatment, both curative and preventive, consists in the subcutaneous injection of diphtheria antitoxin — one of the earliest instances, and still the most effective instance, of serum therapy. See cut under Klebs-Loeffler *bacillus.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. acute contagious infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae; marked by the formation of a false membrane in the throat and other air passages causing difficulty in breathing
New Latin diphthēria, from French diphthérie, from Greek diphtherā, piece of hide, leather; see letter.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French diphthérie, coined 1857 by Pierre Bretonneau; from Ancient Greek διφθέρα (diphthera, "prepared hide, leather"), for the tough membrane that forms in the throat. Bretonneau earlier used diphthérite, from which diphtheritis. (Wiktionary)