We present a case of a Caucasian woman aged 67 years referred with a 4-day history of sore throat, dysphagia, fever and nasal blockage. Examination revealed a swollen neck and pharyngeal pseudomembrane. A throat swab was positive on culture for Corynebacterium ulcerans, with toxin expression confirmed on PCR and Elek testing. A diagnosis of classical respiratory diphtheria was made, with subsequent confirmation of the patient's domesticated dog as the source of infection. The dog had recently been attacked by a wild badger and was being treated for an ear infection. The patient made a good recovery with intravenous antimicrobial and supportive therapy; however, she subsequently developed a diphtheritic polyneuropathy in the form of a severe bulbar palsy with frank aspiration necessitating percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy feeding. A mild sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy was also diagnosed. The patient eventually made an almost complete recovery.
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Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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