Season 2

Episode 16 Scratch and Sniff Diphtheria Membrane

This episode is so good that we’re putting it out a full day early. Pour yourself a quarantini and cozy up with us as we tell you a story of a bacterium that slowly strangles children to death, a scientific quest that helped shape the understanding of infectious diseases, and a great dog sled race across wild and frozen lands to stop death in its tracks. The main character of this story is, you guessed it, Diphtheria. This dreaded disease still lingers, infecting children throughout the world today with its stinking pseudomembrane. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news… we have a vaccine.

History

Biology

The Cruelest Miles by Gay Salisbury & Lainey Salisbury CDC, “The Pink Book: Diphtheria”. November 19. 2015
The Cambridge World History of Human Disease edited by Kenneth F. Kiple WHO, “Global and regional immunization profile” Sept 21. 2018
The Epidemic Streets by Anne Hardy CDC, “The Pink Book: Appendix E- reported cases and deaths from vaccine preventable diseases, US” March 2018
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
English, Peter C. “Diphtheria and theories of infectious disease: centennial appreciation of the critical role of diphtheria in the history of medicine.” Pediatrics 76.1 (1985): 1-9.