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Qld Diphtheria Patient Dies In Hospital

A far north Queensland man has died from diphtheria two weeks after being rushed to a Brisbane hospital.

The 27-year-old was flown to Prince Charles Hospital on January 24, after being admitted to Cairns Hospital.

It's understood the man was not vaccinated against the disease, which is extremely rare in Australia.

Australian Medical Association Queensland President Bill Boyd said no vaccinated person had died from diphtheria in Australia in 20 years.

"In times gone by, diphtheria was one of the biggest killers in children across the population," Dr Boyd told AAP.

"Once vaccination came through the numbers plummeted."

Dr Boyd described the recent death as a "tragedy" for the man's family and friends.

In 2011 an unvaccinated Brisbane woman also died from the disease after contracting it from a friend who had returned from overseas.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has been locating those in contact with the man in an effort to trace the infection and prevent its spread.

The man has not recently travelled overseas, meaning the infection was caught in Australia.

Diphtheria is caused by bacteria and results primarily in swelling in the nose, throat and windpipe, which can cause breathing difficulties.

It is spread by direct contact with an infected person, or through contaminated objects.

AAP

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