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All about: Diphtheria Antitoxin

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* Not commercially available in the U.S.

Category

  • Immunizing agent (passive)

Description

Diphtheria antitoxin (dif-THEER-ee-a AN-ti-TOK-sin) is used to prevent and/or treat diphtheria infection in persons exposed to the disease.

Although rare in the U.S., diphtheria is a serious disease that can cause life-threatening illnesses. Diphtheria is transmitted through contact with an infected person or a carrier of the disease.

Diphtheria antitoxin is to be administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor or other health care professional. It is available in the following dosage form:

  • Parenteral
  • Injection (Canada)

Before Using This Medicine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of using the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For diphtheria antitoxin, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to diphtheria antitoxin, to horses, or to any products of horse origin. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as preservatives. Before giving you this medicine, your doctor will do a skin test or conjunctival (eye) test to see whether you are at risk of having a serious allergic reaction to diphtheria antitoxin or horse serum (contained in this medicine).

Pregnancy—Studies on effects in pregnancy have not been done in either humans or animals.

Breast-feeding—It is not known whether diphtheria antitoxin passes into the breast milk. Although most medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts, many of them may be used safely while breast-feeding. Mothers who have received this medicine and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.

Children—Although there is no specific information comparing use of diphtheria antitoxin in children with use in other age groups, this medicine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.

Older adults—Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of diphtheria antitoxin in the elderly with use in other age groups. However, there is no evidence that the effects of diphtheria antitoxin in older adults differ from those in younger persons.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of diphtheria antitoxin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems.

Proper Use of This Medicine

Dosing—The dose of diphtheria antitoxin will be different for different patients. The following information includes only the average doses of diphtheria antitoxin.

  • For injection dosage form:
    • For prevention of diphtheria:
      • Adults and children—One dose injected into a muscle.
    • For treatment of diphtheria:
      • Adults and children—One to six doses injected into a muscle.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common

Chilly sensation; difficulty in breathing and swallowing; feeling of discomfort; fever; inflammation of joints; hives; itching, especially of hands or feet; muscle aches; rapid rise in body temperature; rash; reddening of skin, especially around ears; swelling of eyes, face, or inside of nose; swollen lymph glands; unusual tiredness or weakness, sudden and severe

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Developed: 07/31/1998
Revised: 07/09/2003

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