Diph­the­ria case in Dé­nia con­firmed

Fifth di­ag­no­sis in coun­try since 2015 of 'ex­tinct dis­ease' af­fects Spa­niard, 53, who is 're­spond­ing well to treat­ment'

Costa Levante News - - NEWS -

By Sa­man­tha Kett A CASE of diph­the­ria has been di­ag­nosed at Dé­nia hos­pi­tal – only the fifth in three years in Spain, where the highly­con­ta­gious con­di­tion was thought to have been ex­tinct since 1986.

The pa­tient, 53, had not trav­elled to any high­risk coun­try in many years, and had been vac­ci­nated in early child­hood and again be­fore his mil­i­tary ser­vice.

But the Spa­niard did not have the rec­om­mended boost­ers at age 40, which are also strongly ad­vised again at age 65.

He checked into A&E a fort­night ago with what ap­peared to be ton­sili­tis and laryn­gi­tis, fever, skin rash, se­ri­ous breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, a re­duced heart­beat caused by a swelling of the heart mus­cle – known as my­ocardi­tis – and a gen­eral feel­ing of be­ing un­well.

Im­me­di­ately sus­pect­ing diph­the­ria, medics iso­lated him and ad­mit­ted him to in­ten­sive care, send­ing bac­te­ria sam­ples to Spain's top in­fec­tious and con­ta­gious dis­eases hos­pi­tal.

The Car­los III in Madrid – where Spain's only home­caught ebola case, in one of its nurses, was suc­cess­fully treated – con­firmed the Ma­rina Alta man had diph­the­ria.

He has been re­spond­ing well to an­tibi­otics in the last fort­night, and has not needed any anti­tox­ins.

Diph­the­ria, which was wiped out much ear­lier in the UK thanks to a rou­tine vac­cine in­tro­duced in 1942, is ex­cep­tion­ally con­ta­gious as well as in­fec­tious, mean­ing it is air­borne as well as trans­mit­ted via per­son­to­per­son con­tact.

It has only caused four deaths in the UK in 20 years, and five cases – in­clud­ing the Dé­nia man – in Spain in three years.

The first known case in Spain since 1986 was a six­yearold boy from Olot, in Cataluña, who died in 2015.

His par­ents op­posed vac­ci­na­tions and tra­di­tional medicine, mean­ing he had never been in­oc­u­lated against this or any other viral dis­eases. Hedge wars have re­duced dras­ti­cally in Dé­nia since the lo­cal po­lice started up an in­for­mal me­di­a­tion ser­vice where neigh­bours are en­cour­aged to talk to, rather than de­nounce each other. In the last three months, spe­cial­ist res­i­dent con­flict of­fi­cers have in­ter­vened in 15 dis­putes, all of which have been re­solved to the sat­is­fac­tion of both par­ties. The me­di­at­ing of­fi­cer acts as a 'neu­tral ref­eree' and en­cour­ages each side of the ar­gu­ment to 'talk and lis­ten', says Juan An­to­nio Tous, one of the team. He says the ma­jor­ity of neigh­bour dis­putes re­late to noise, use of pub­lic or shared spa­ces, fail­ure to keep plots or gar­dens tidy and clean, boundary dis­agree­ments, and young peo­ple or chil­dren hav­ing rows. Benissa coun­cil is once again of­fer­ing tax cred­its to some res­i­dents. For large fam­i­lies who live in homes up to the value of €120,000, a 50% dis­count on IBI tax is avail­able. This will be re­newed ev­ery two years. For those aged over 65 and liv­ing on a low in­come, rub­bish col­lec­tion tax will be re­duced by 90%. In re­la­tion to ve­hi­cle tax on elec­tric and hy­brid ve­hi­cles, those own­ing ve­hi­cles with low pol­lu­tion rates will also ben­e­fit. Elec­tric cars will be el­i­gi­ble for a 75% dis­count, and hy­brid ve­hi­cles en­ti­tled to a 25% dis­count. The car tax in­cen­tive is in or­der pro­mote the use of eco­friendly ve­hi­cles. The dead­line to ap­ply for the re­duc­tion is De­cem­ber 28, and should be made at the Suma of­fice in Benissa.

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