Contact Information
Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health
Immunization Program
3530 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone: (213) 351-7800
Fax: (213) 351-2780

Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Unit
Phone: (213) 351-7400
Fax: (213) 351-2781

Diphtheria is caused by a bacterium that forms a thick coating on the back of the throat, making it difficult to swallow or breathe. It also produces a toxin that affects the heart, kidneys and nervous system. Diphtheria is very contagious and can be easily passed from person to person by respiratory droplet transmission, usually by breathing in diphtheria bacteria after an infected person has coughed, sneezed or even laughed. 

Diphtheria - containing vaccines such as DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis), and Td (tetanus, diphtheria) are the most safe and effective way to prevent diphtheria. Children should get five doses of the DTaP vaccine at 2, 4, 6, 15 - 18 months of age and before entering school at 4-6 years of age. Td vaccine is recommended for adults every 10 years to ensure continued immunity against diphtheria as well as tetanus. Adults should replace their next dose of Td with a dose of Tdap vaccine if they have not previously received it.

Tdap vaccine is recommended for adolescents and adults 11- through 64-years of age who have not previously received it. Further, because of recent outbreaks of pertussis, the following groups should get a dose of Tdap:
    • 7- to 10-year-olds who have not had all recommended doses of DTaP
    • Adults who are going to be around infants (grandparents, healthcare personnel, day care workers), including those who are 65 and older
    • All adults who have not had Tdap previously should get a dose in place of their next Td vaccine
    • Pregnant women should get one dose of Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks' gestation during each pregnancy 

Information and Resources for Families Information and Resources for Providers
Reporting Guidelines and Resources Alerts, Updates, and Reports

Report diphtheria cases to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health immediately by telephone.  Do not wait for lab results.  In addition, forward all bacterial isolates and malarial slides to the Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory (562-658-1300) for confirmation.

Business Hours: 
Phone: (888) 397-3993

Fax: (888) 397-3778 

After Business Hours 
Phone: (213) 974-1234

Laboratory Testing Guidelines For
Measles and Mumps
It's Flu Season
Immunization Skills Institute
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
Los Angeles County Seal: Enriching lives through effective and caring services