Prevalence and correlates of diphtheria toxoid antibodies in children and adults in Israel

L. Valinsky, S. Simhoni, R. Bassal, V. Agmon, R. Yishai, M. S. Green, Dan Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A seroepidemiological study was performed to evaluate immunity to diphtheria and to determine the correlates of diphtheria toxoid antibody levels among children and adults in Israel. In total, 3185 sera from an age-stratified sample of children and adults, obtained in 2000-2001, were tested for diphtheria toxoid antibodies by an in-house double-antigen ELISA. A level of ≤0.01IU/mL (no immune protection or seronegativity) was found in 168 (5.3%) of the 3185 subjects, 639 (20.1%) had antibody levels of 0.011-0.099IU/mL (basic immunity or low seropositivity), and 2378 (74.7%) had antibody levels ≥0.1IU/mL (full protection or seropositivity). Seronegativity increased significantly in subjects aged >50 years, reaching levels of 9.7%, 12.6% and 18.9% in the groups aged 50-54, 55-59 and >60 years, respectively (p 0.001), with rates of basic immunity following a similar pattern. Subjects born abroad had higher seronegativity rates than those born in Israel (7.7% vs. 4.9%; p 0.019). No difference in diphtheria toxoid antibody levels was found according to other demographical variables, such as gender, Jewish or Arab ethnicity, urban or rural settlements, and the subjects' place of residence. The level of immunity to diphtheria among children and adults in Israel was satisfactory, with the exception of individuals aged >50 years. The risk of diphtheria outbreaks is low, but sporadic cases may occur among individuals lacking basic immunity against the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968-973
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotics
  • Diptheria
  • Immunity
  • Israel
  • Seropositivity
  • Toxoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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