A six-year-old boy has died after contracting the first case of diphtheria in Spain since 1987. The boy, identified as Pau, whose parents opted not to vaccinate passed away only 28 days after showing symptoms of the once-eradicated illness.
Spain’s First Case of Diphtheria in nearly 30 years Claims Life of Unvaccinated Boy
A six-year-old boy identified as Pau from Olot, near Girona, was admitted to Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron hospital on May 30 with respiratory, cardiac, and kidney complications caused by the infectious disease diphtheria. The boy’s parents had chosen not to vaccinate Pau against diphtheria, an illness that had been completely eliminated in Spain before the 1990s.
Upon admittance, Pau was located to the intensive care unit. The young boy was immediately put on three separate machines to keep him alive as the diphtheria toxin had already started to take a heavy toll on his major organs leading to his quick, steady demise.
Unfortunately, even with the assistance of the machines, Pau passed away after only 28 days.
Background of Diphtheria and the Immunization Movement
Before the six-year-old contracted diphtheria last month, Spain had not seen a case since 1987. In fact, the childhood illness had been completely eradicated after a large, national push of immunizations for infants as according to the World Health Organization standards.
According to Mayo Clinic, diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection, affecting the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Some symptoms that present can include fever, sore throat, swollen glands and fatigue, with the major indicating symptom being a thick, gray material that blocks the air passage. This thick covering causes difficulty breathing which can become extremely painful as the disease progresses.
The infectious disease is caused by the bacterium corynebacterium diphtheriae. It is spread through coughing and sneezing and is more susceptible in young children and elderly people.
The Dangers of the Anti-vaccination Movement in Spain and Abroad
Pau’s parents have since come forward to the media expressing their guilt of not having their son vaccinated. The distraught parents are furious at the anti-vaccination movement for having misdirected them with claims that vaccines were dangerous for their child.
A heated debate has since been sparked in Spain over Pau’s tragic death, one that could have been prevented with the use of vaccines. Within Spain and around the world, anti-vaccination movements have stirred up false, fear-mongering claims over the safety of vaccines.
Pau’s unfortunate death can give valuable insight to the importance of vaccines. His death can serve as a lesson to help educate thousands of parents who are wary of providing immunizations to their children. Boi Ruiz Catalonia’s secretary of health believes this horrible tragedy can serve as an opportunity to reiterate the importance of vaccinating the public, especially the nation’s children who cannot make their own healthcare decisions.
Of the 50 schoolchildren who were in contact with Pau, only 8 had tested positive for the disease. All 8 children were previously vaccinated for diphtheria and made a full recovery.