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Gram-positive, slightly club shaped, small, pleomorphic, aerobic, non-spore forming bacilli. Nonmotile and catalase positive.

Diphtheria, upper respiratory tract illness.
Health Hazards
Host Range

Humans. C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis are derived from animals but also cause disease in humans.

Modes of Transmission

Exposure to wounds, exposure to contaminated fomites, inhalation, accidental parenteral inoculation, ingestion.

Signs and Symptoms

Lesions on the skin or formation of pseudomembrane, pharyngitis or tonsillitis with sore throat, dysphagia, lymphadenitis, low grade fever, malaise, and headache; Cutaneous diphtheria is characterized by formation of lesions on the skin.

Infectious Dose
Incubation Period
2-4 days
Medical Precautions / Treatment
None available.

DTaP vaccine of Diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus toxoid.

antibiotic therapy with penicillin, cephalosporins, erythromycin, and tetracycline may be used in conjunction with antitoxin to eliminate the bacteria from the site of infection. Penicillin can be given intramuscularly or orally
Monitor for symptoms.
MSU Requirements
Report any exposures
Laboratory Hazards
Laboratory Acquired Infections (LAIs)
Cases have been reported.
Exudates or secretions from nose, throat, nasopharynx, larynx, wounds, blood, skin. Cultures, frozen stocks, other samples described in IBC protocol.
Supplemental References
Canadian MSDS:
NIH Guidelines
Risk Group & Containment Requirements
Risk Group 2

Agents that are associated with human disease which is rarely serious and for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are often available.

For all procedures involving suspected or known infectious specimen or cultures.
For all procedures utilizing infected animals.
Spill Procedures
Notify others working in the lab. Remove PPE and don new PPE. Cover area of the spill with absorbent material and add fresh 1:10 bleach:water. Allow 20 munutes (or as directed) of contact time. After 20 minutes, cleanup and dispose of materials.
  • Immediately notify all personnel in the lab and clear all personnel from the area. Remove any contaminated PPE/clothing and leave the lab. 
  • Secure the area by locking doors, posting signage and guarding the area to keep people out of the space. 
For assistance, contact MSU's Biosafety Officer (406-994-6733) or Safety and Risk Management (406-994-2711).
Exposure Procedures
Mucous membrane
Flush eyes, mouth, or nose for 5 minutes at eyewash station.
Other Exposures
Wash area with soap and water for 5 minutes.
Immediately report incident to supervisor, complete a First Report of Injury form, and submit to Safety and Risk Management.
Medical Follow-up
During business hours: Bridger Occupational Health 3406 Laramie Drive. Weekdays 8am -6pm.  Weekends 9am-5pm
After business hours: Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Emergency Room 915 Highland Blvd Bozeman, MT
Susceptible to 1:10 bleach:water, 70 % ethanol, accelerated hydrogen peroxide
Inactivated by moist heat (121°C for 15 min- 30 min)
Survival Outside Host

C. diphtheriae can survive on dry inanimate surfaces from 7 days to 6 months. Survival of C. ulcerans and C. pseudotuberculosis is unknown.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Minimum PPE Requirements
Lab coat, disposable gloves, safety glasses, closed toed shoes, long pants
Additional Precautions
Additioanl PPE may be required depending on lab specific SOPs and IBC Protocol.