Diphtheria in the Russian Federation in the 1990s

J Infect Dis. 2000 Feb;181 Suppl 1:S27-34. doi: 10.1086/315535.


A resurgence of diphtheria spread throughout the Russian Federation in the early 1990s; diphtheria had been well controlled, but circulation of toxigenic strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae had persisted since the implementation of universal childhood vaccination in the late 1950s. More than 115,000 cases and 3,000 deaths were reported from 1990 to 1997, and, in contrast to the situation in the prevaccine era, most of the cases and deaths occurred among adults. Contributing factors included the accumulation of susceptible individuals among both adults and children and probably the introduction of new strains of C. diphtheriae. Vaccine quality, vaccine supply, or access to vaccine providers did not significantly contribute to the epidemic. Mass vaccination of adults and improved childhood immunization controlled the epidemic. High levels of population immunity, especially among children, will be needed to prevent and control similar outbreaks in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae / immunology
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae / isolation & purification
  • Diphtheria / epidemiology*
  • Diphtheria / microbiology
  • Diphtheria / prevention & control*
  • Diphtheria Toxoid
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine
  • Disease Notification / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Outbreaks* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs
  • Population Surveillance
  • Program Evaluation
  • Russia / epidemiology


  • Diphtheria Toxoid
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine