• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Parents of diphtheria boy 'feel terrible guilt'

Fiona Govan · 5 Jun 2015, 15:55

Published: 05 Jun 2015 15:55 GMT+02:00

The mother and father of the six-year-old who is fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit of Barcelona’s Vall de Hebron hospital are “destroyed and feel cheated” by the anti-vaccination movement that convinced them not to immunize their son.

Antoni Mateu, Catalonia’s regional secretary for public health said he had met the parents of the child and they had expressed their regret over their lapse of judgement.

"They are a lovely couple and both feel a terrible sense of guilt," he told a press conference on Friday.

He stressed that no action was planned against the parents, whose names have not been made public, either for failing to vaccinate their child or to hold them accountable for the cost of the treatment or expense of containing the infection.

However, he pledged to pursue offending anti-vaccination platforms who "spread lies and cause confusion" as they persuade people against the state-recommended immunization programme.

Authorities are currently working to prevent the spread of the childhood infection, identifying those who may be at risk after coming in contact with the child.

Electron microscope image of the bacterium that causes diphtheria. Photo: Sanofi Pasteur / Flickr

Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium corynebacterium diphtheriae that usually affects young children and the elderly. 

It is spread through the respiratory tract via coughing and sneezing and has a mortality rate of one in ten.

The childhood illness was eradicated in Spain almost 30 years ago thanks to routine vaccination programmes

The boy from the town of Olot, near Girona, first showed symptoms of the illness on May 25th. It was reported that he had just spent several days at a school camp, but no further cases have yet been detected.

Story continues below…

The boy was said to be "responding well to treatment" but was still "in a serious condition" according to a spokesman at the hospital.

It is the first recorded case since 1986 when the childhood illness was completely eradicated in Spain thanks to a systematic vaccination programme.

The case has provoked furious debate in Spain over whether parents should be legally obliged to vaccinate their children.

It was widely reported that the parents of the 6-year-old suffering from diphtheria had opted not to vaccinate him, part of a small but growing minority of parents against immunization because of their concerns about side effects of vaccines.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spanish economy continues to grow despite lack of govt
Photo: Contando Estrelas/Flickr

Spain's economic growth continued in the second quarter even as the country remains mired in political limbo after two inconclusive general elections.

Shocking video shows torture of young calf during fiesta
Cruelty in the name of fun? Photo: Pacma

Bullfighting fiestas reached a new low with the torture of a young calf.

Ethan Hawkes to be honoured with San Sebastián award
Ethan Hawke in the Magnificent Seven

The Hollywood actor will be given the Donastia lifetime achievement at the 64th San Sebastián Film Festival.

Gallery
The ten most weird (and wonderful) museums in Spain
Photo: Courtesy of the Museum of Funeral Carriages.

Spain is home to some of the finest museums in the world, but it also boasts some of the most bizarre.

Spanish court bars top Eta figure from Basque elections
The Basque separatist leader in San Sebastian. Photo: AFP

Arnaldo Otegi, once jailed for terrorism charges, has been barred from standing in Basque elections.

Spanish town warns against texting while crossing roads
The warnings now appear at crossings in Talavera de la Reina in Spain.

It might seem entirely obvious to most, but it seems some people need to be told that looking at your phone while crossing a busy road can prove dangerous.

Police launch appeal for Costa Blanca hit and run driver
Photo: N332 /@drivingSpain/facebook

Do you recognise this car?

What political deadlock? Spain economy forges ahead
Rajoy is struggling to form a government. Photo: AFP

Eight months without a government but is Spain really the worse for it?

Ten fascinating museums in Spain you REALLY must visit
The innovative NMAC foundation in southern Spain's Cádiz province features contemporay art in a former military installation. Photo: Guillermo Varela

To mark International Museum Day, The Local takes a look at ten museums in Spain, you may not have visited. But should.

True cost of Spain's balcony-jumping craze revealed
A tourist leaping into a swimming pool. Screen grab: YouTube

They're young, on holiday, drunk and sometimes high, and they decide to jump from their hotel or apartment balcony into the pool. But some miss and end up in hospital... or worse, dead.

Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
International
'We won't ban burqinis on our beaches' insists Barcelona
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
British dad drowns saving daughter on red flagged beach
National
11 Spanish words that English must adopt right now
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Lifestyle
Justin Bieber just bought an amazing new pad in Lanzarote
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
Recipe: How to make Andalusian Ajo Blanco soup
Travel
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Travel
Ten touristy types you'll meet in Spain: Which one are you?
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Ten top tips to avoid looking like a guiri when in Spain
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
International
Don't miss this spectacular meteor shower over Spain
Travel
Desperate Ryanair passenger chases after missed flight
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Travel
What's on in Spain: August 2016
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
National
German firestarter blames blaze on 'toilet paper mishap'
National
Flashmob prank sparks 'terror attack' panic in Spanish resort
Culture
Croquemon Go: Spain invents twist on game to 'eat 'em all'
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
National
Spanish parents fight for right to name their son 'Wolf'
National
Beach closed after shark attack in southern Spain
National
Spain ups security at tourist spots as terrorism fears grow
National
Ten great reasons to discover the real Malaga right now
Lifestyle
The good, bad and the ugly of long distance relationships
National
7 reasons why grandparents in Spain are simply the best
Travel
Barcelona bans Segways from tourist clogged waterfront
3,287
jobs available