Reports: Child In Spain Has Diphtheria, Parents Refused To Vaccinate

| by Michael Allen

Spain may have its first case of diphtheria since 1986 because some parents reportedly refused to vaccinate their 6-year-old child.

The boy, who is from Olot in the province of Girona, was recently admitted to hospital in Barcelona.

Health officials said the child had not been vaccinated even though the government has free vaccination programs. Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that the boy's parents oppose vaccinations.

Spain's Health Ministry initially sought help from the World Health Organization and the United States to find the anti-toxin that the boy needed for treatment, but the medication was finally provided by the Russian ambassador to Spain.

Ruben Moreno, Spain's general secretary for the health service, told El Pais, "The problem is that these days, no one has this illness. Everyone is vaccinated."

Moreno added that anti-vaccination campaigns, like the ones growing in the U.S., are "irresponsible," and said, "The consequences of not vaccinating a child can be dramatic. The right to vaccination is for children, not for the parents to decide."

Diphtheria causes serious breathing problems and can be fatal. The bacterial disease can be spread through air from coughing and sneezing or through direct contact. It usually strikes children under 5 years old and adults over 60.

According to, officials in the Catalan region of Spain are watching "about 150 people" who may have come in contact with the boy and could be at risk for infection.

The Catalan Public Health Agency says those people are being treated with preventive medication.

Sources: El Pais,
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