• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Diphtheria boy being kept alive by machines

Fiona Govan · 9 Jun 2015, 14:19

Published: 09 Jun 2015 14:19 GMT+02:00

An update on his condition was given by Spain's minister of health, Alfonso Alonso, on Monday night.

The six-year-old boy, who has now been identified only as Pau, is being treated in the intensive care unit of Vall d’ Hebron hospital in Barcelona where his condition is described as "critical but stable".

"Pau would not have a chance without the excellent professional care he is getting," said the minister. "This case shows us many things, not least that it is important to trust in scientific evidence and not be influenced by other theories."

The boy is being treated with medicines flown in from Russia because Spain was not equipped to deal with an outbreak of diphtheria. The childhood illness has been eradicated in Spain since 1986.
 
Eight other children who tested positive for the bacterium on Tuesday are showing no signs of having contracted it - they had all been vaccinated.

They are being kept in isolation along with their parents to prevent the infection spreading.

Pau, a resident of Olot near Girona, first showed symptoms on May 25th. His parents had chosen not to vaccinate him, a decision they said they had come to regret.

His mother and father admitted last week that they "feel terrible guilt" for not vaccinating their child and said they felt hoodwinked by the anti-vaccination movement that convinced them not to immunize their son.

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 last case being reported in 1986.

It was reported that the six-year-old had recently spent several days at a school camp, but no further cases have yet been detected.

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

Story continues below…

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 six-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
Catalonia ex-president faces trial over illegal 'referendum'
Artur Mas faces trial for his role in symbolic plebiscite. Photo: AFP

Artur Mas and two other officials are accused of overstepping authority by staging a mock independence referendum in November 2014 in defiance of a ban from Spain’s Constitutional Court.

Woman fined after 'stealing' her own dog from kennels
Photo: Patrick Theiner/Flickr

The woman in Mallorca took her dog without filling out the necessary paperwork.

Barcelona ups fine for illegal home-rentals to €600,000
Companies like Airbnb will now face fines of up to €600,000 for illegal lodgings. Photo: AFP

Barcelona has imposed a 20-fold hike in the maximum fine that can be given to home rental sites like Airbnb if they promote illegal accommodation.

Spain's animal rights party wins record votes in election
Pacma members protesting against bullfighting. Photo: AFP

An animal rights party in Spain won a record number of votes in weekend elections in a country where opposition to bullfighting is more and more vocal.

The ultimate guide to Madrid Gay Pride 2016
Photo: Missiz Me/Flickr.

From a two million-strong parade to fiestas across the city, the Madrid Gay Pride Festival 2016 promises to be one of the best yet. The Local takes a look at the highlights.

The bright side of Brexit: The 'good news' for Brits in Spain
Could Brexit be a reason to celebrate in Spain? Photo: AFP

Well the UK voted to Leave the EU, the pound is tumbling, and stock markets have been in turmoil, but it's not all bad news for Brits living and working in Spain... right?

Spanish arrest Russian mafia in money laundering probe
Photo: Civil Guard / Interior Ministry

The massive bust saw eight people arrested amd 191 properties across Spain seized.

Meet the new face of women's tennis: Garbiñe Muguruza
Photo: Garbiñe Muguruza/Instagram

We take a look at the Spaniard who is set to become the new face of women's tennis.

Madrid's prostitutes offered study grants to get off streets
File Photo: ipi6r/Flickr

Madrid City Council is offering 31 scholarships worth €76,500 to prostitutes who want to leave the streets and get an education.

The Local list
Five reasons why Spain is a great place to be gay
The Europride parade in Madrid. Photo: Bru Garcia / AFP.

The Local takes a look some of the major advantages for the LGBT community in Spain.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
PP win most seats and PSOE cling on to second place
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
International
Brexit limbo: What happens next for expat Brits in Spain?
Politics
Spanish elections: What are the possible outcomes?
International
Worried after Brexit? Here’s how to become Spanish
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Politics
Why Spain is heading for a Groundhog day election
International
Brit expats in Spain stunned and fearful after Brexit win
Travel
The intern's guide to surviving a summer in Spain
National
The weird and wonderful ways Spain celebrates midsummer
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
International
Spain REALLY wants Britain to stay in EU and here's why
National
Don't jump! Officials in Spain warn against 'balconing' craze
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Girl's best friend: Four-year-old finds comfort with a bull
Politics
Hilarious video pokes fun at expats in Spain over Brexit
National
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
National
Spain knocked off top spot for world's best restaurant
International
Meet the Spaniard working as North Korea's secret weapon
National
Sheep invade Spanish city after shepherd takes a snooze
Features
Five brilliant ways to beat the crowds in Barcelona
National
Experts warn of jellyfish boom across Spain's beaches
Politics
Are these the weirdest political campaign ads ever?
National
Giant inflatable poo goes walkies from town square
Lifestyle
Spanish study proves fat really ISN'T bad for you
National
President Obama announces three-day visit to Spain in July
3,378
jobs available