Dipthe­ria kills in Spain’s 1st case since 1987

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

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 bac­te­rial in­fec­tion 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 hos­pi­tal­ized 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 north- eastern 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 im­mu­nized against diph­the­ria, tetanus and whoop­ing cough, all in­fec­tious dis­eases that can po­ten­tially be fa­tal. Se­vere re­ac­tions to the vac­cine are ex­tremely rare.

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