Diphtheria Toxin


Natural Source Strains of Corynebacterium diphtheria that have been lysogenized by bacteriaphage β
Laboratory Source Solid lyophilized toxin
Characteristics DT is an exotoxin that inhibits eukaryotic protein synthesis by ADP-ribosylating an enlongation factor needed to translocate the ribosome along mRNA

Health Hazards

Route of Entry Nasopharyngeal and cutaneous
Signs and Symptoms

DT can cause cranial, motor and sensory nerve palsies, myocarditis, and endocarditis.

Toxicity Dose Data LD50 = 0.1 µg/kg

Medical Precautions/Treatment

Diagnosis Clinical symptoms of toxin mediated disease
Prophylaxis Booster dose of diphtheria toxoid
Vaccines Immunization with diphtheria toxoid is typically combined with tetanus toxoid and the pertussis vaccine as DTP and administered to young children.
Treatment Administer antitoxin.
Emory Requirements DT immunization and booster every 10 years

Containment Requirements

BSL-2 Conduct all work with DT inside a biological safety cabinet.

Supplemental References

Canadian MSDS http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/index-eng.php  
BMBL: 5th Edition http://www.cdc.gov/OD/ohs/biosfty/bmbl5/BMBL_ 5th_Edition.pdf 
CDC https://www.cdc.gov/diphtheria/ 
Applied Biosafety Johnson B, Mastnjak R, Resnick IG. 2001. Safety and Health Considerations for Working with Biological Toxins. Applied Biosafety. 6 (3): 117-135
Brock Biology of Microorganisms Madigan MT, Martinko JM. 2006. Brock Biology of Microorganisms. 11th edition. Upper Saddle River (NJ): Prentice Hall.

Spill Procedures

Small Notify others working in the lab. Rinse gloves with decontamination solution and don new gloves. Cover area of the spill with paper towels and apply decontamination solution, working from the perimeter towards the center. Exit and keep others from entering the laboratory. Allow 1 hour of contact time before entering the laboratory without respiratory protection. Cleanup and dispose of spill materials.

Contact Emory’s Biosafety Officer (404-727-8863),
the EHSO Office (404-727-5922), or
The Spill Response Team (404-727-2888).

Exposure Procedures

Mucous membrane Flush eyes, mouth or nose for 15 minutes at eyewash station.
Other Exposures Wash area with soap and water for 15 minutes.
Reporting Immediately report incident to supervisor, complete an employee incident report in PeopleSoft.
Medical Followup 

7am-4pm (OIM): EUH (404-686-7941) EUHM (404-686-7106) WW (404-728-6431)

After Hours: OIM NP On Call 404-686-5500 PIC# 50464

Needle Stick (OIM): EUH (404-686-8587) EUHM (404-686-2352)

Yerkes: Maureen Thompson Office (404-727-8012) Cell (404-275-0963)


Decontamination Decontaminate surfaces with solutions of 1% sodium hypochlorite
Inactivation Autoclave at 121°C for 1 hour on liquid cycle with lid of primary container loosened

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Minimum PPE Requirements At minimum, personnel are required to don gloves, closed toed shoes, lab coat, and appropriate face and eye protection prior to working with DT. Additional PPE may be required depending on lab specific SOPs.
Additional Precautions When conducting procedures with a risk of toxin aerosol generation, respirators may be required. Fit testing and training is required annually per Emory’s Respiratory Program: http://www.ehso.emory.edu/content-manuals/RespiratoryProtectionProgram.pdf 

PDF (Full Document)

Click the icon to download the PDF version of this BARS.