Queensland Man Dies After Contracting The Rare Diphtheria Disease

Officials puzzled by outbreak

Queensland Man Dies After Contracting The Rare Diphtheria Disease Flickr

A man has died in a Brisbane hospital after contracting the highly contagious illness diphtheria.

The 27-year-old, from Cairns, was flown to the Prince Charles Hospital on January 24, health officials confirmed on Thursday the man has since passed away.

It is believed he wasn't vaccinated against the disease - it is recommended that children are immunised for diphtheria from two months of age.

In the 1900s, diphtheria caused more deaths in Australia than any other infectious disease, but no vaccinated person has died from the illness in more than 20 years. The last diphtheria death in Queensland occurred in 2011.

Health officials are at a loss to explain how he contracted it, they were able to confirm the man had not travelled overseas recently. Diphtheria spreads by having direct contact with an infected person or contaminated object.

"Queensland Health offers its sincerest condolences to the family of this patient," a spokesperson said.

"The case was acquired in Australia with the patient having no recent history of overseas travel. The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has undertaken contact tracing with people potentially at risk of being infected due to close contact with the patient."