6-year-old dies in Spain's first diphtheria case since 1987

June 27, 2015

A 6-year-old boy has died in Spain's first case of diphtheria since 1987, his hospital said Saturday.

The child had not been vaccinated against the disease amid controversy over the potential side-effects of the jab, and had been fighting the for a month.

The Vall d'Hebrone hospital in Barcelona confirmed on its Twitter account "the death of a patient with diphtheria" who had been hospitalised at the end of May.

An infection that mostly affects the nose and throat, diphtheria is highly contagious but has become increasingly rare in western Europe in recent decades due to high rates of vaccination.

The little boy's treatment had suffered delays due to the difficulty in finding the right antitoxin in Europe. It was finally provided by Russia.

Nine other children and an adult were exposed to the bacteria but did not develop the disease, having all been vaccinated, according to health services in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region.

The decision by the boy's parents not to vaccinate him has raised a fresh debate in Spain over the risks of the vaccine versus the risk of not having it.

"We are appealing to parents to have their children vaccinated," Catalonia's health chief Boi Ruiz told a press conference.

"The risk is not zero. But we cannot use the fact that the risk isn't zero to create fear amongst parents over the vaccine," he added, noting that the level of vaccination is "very high" in Spain.

In France, the debate over vaccinations has surged anew after the death of a seven-month-old baby who had received two injections against whooping cough, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and diphtheria.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2013 about 84 percent of infants worldwide were immunised against , tetanus and , all infectious diseases that can potentially be fatal. Severe reactions to the vaccine are extremely rare.

Explore further: Whooping cough vaccine recommended for pregnant women amid spike in cases

Related Stories

Whooping cough vaccine recommended for pregnant women amid spike in cases

September 12, 2014
Expectant moms should be vaccinated for pertussis, or whooping cough, during their third trimester, according to obstetricians at Loyola University Health System. Those in close contact with the infant also should be up to ...

Whooping cough resurgence due to vaccinated people not knowing they are infectious?

June 24, 2015
Whooping cough has made an astonishing comeback, with 2012 seeing nearly 50,000 infections in the U.S. (the most since 1955), and a death rate in infants three times that of the rest of the population. The dramatic resurgence ...

Whooping cough research pinpoints diminishing immunity period

June 4, 2015
The tragic death of a baby boy in Perth earlier this year has again highlighted the importance of the whooping cough vaccine and research by the Telethon Kids Institute will soon ensure young children are better protected.

Disease outbreak may not spur parents to have children vaccinated

May 5, 2014
Conventional wisdom holds that when the risk of catching a disease is high, people are more likely to get vaccinated to protect themselves.

Few hospital websites educate pregnant women on Tdap vaccination and whooping cough prevention

November 4, 2014
Whooping cough, a highly contagious bacterial infection, can be serious and even fatal in newborns, but less than half of birthing hospitals in Michigan included prevention information on websites, says a new University of ...

One child in five still not vaccinated: WHO

April 22, 2015
One-fifth of the world's children are still not receiving routine life-saving vaccinations and efforts to ensure global immunisation coverage remain "far off track," the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Novel molecular target to prevent scarring of the lung blood vessels identified

June 13, 2018
Pulmonary arterial hypertension, a severe form of cardiopulmonary disease in which the arteries that transport blood from the heart to the lungs become thickened, constricted, and scarred, is a disease for which there is ...

Fast-acting cholera vaccine could curb outbreaks

June 13, 2018
A tricked-out cholera vaccine starts protecting against the deadly disease within a day, experiments in rabbits suggest. The rapid protection offered by this designer vaccine may one day limit the spread of cholera outbreaks, ...

Lineage of TB traced and compared to early human migration

June 13, 2018
A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Iowa and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has carried out genetic studies of tuberculosis to learn more about its lineage and to compare it ...

Finally, hope for a syphilis vaccine

June 12, 2018
Despite efforts to eradicate it, syphilis is on the rise. Until now, most health agencies focused on treating infected people and their sex partners but new discoveries may make a vaccine possible, UConn Health researchers ...

How to slow down Ebola—Virologists use 'genetic trees' to evaluate intervention strategies

June 12, 2018
The phylogenetic tree of the 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic doesn't just reveal how the Ebola virus was able to evolve—it also reveals which events and preventive measures accelerated or slowed down its spread. These findings ...

Small children and pregnant women may be underdosed in current malaria regimen

June 12, 2018
Current recommended dosing regimens for the most widely used treatment for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria may be sub-optimal for the most vulnerable populations of patients, according to a study published this ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.