It was reported that his parents had refused to vaccinate their child because of the much debated side effects of the vaccine. Because of this, he had to struggle with the infection for about four weeks, before succumbing to the disease.
He was hospitalized on May 30th, according to the representatives of the Vall d’Hebrone hospital where he was treated.
Most people vaccinate their children against the disease, which makes both the infection rate and the mortality rate lower than it used to be a few decades ago.
Diphtheria is known to be an extremely infectious disease that is caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheriae.
The symptoms do not take long to appear after the person has been infected (two to five days) and usually begin with fever and sore throat. Because of the enlarged lymph nodes, the neck might swell . Other forms of diphtheria can affect the skin, eyes or genitals.
People can die of various complications associated with the disease. In 1990, diphtheria caused 8.000 deaths, but the number decreased because of the growing number of people who chose to vaccinate their children. Thus, in 2013, 3.300 deaths were reported.
Small children and older people are the most likely ones to die, as the mortality rate was estimated to be around 20 percent.
People who get the vaccine are less exposed, even if the risk is not completely gone. The doctor said that in the case of the six-year-old boy, other people had been exposed but were not infected because they had been vaccinated.
Because so many children are vaccinated when they are little, the number of cases in Western Europe is extremely low nowadays. It was particularly difficult to save the boy because the right antitoxin could not be found. When it was finally brought from Russia, it was already too late.
The case prompted new debates over the benefits and the risks of the vaccine. The doctors advise parents to consider having their kids vaccinated, given the fact that the severe complications are extremely rare.
“The risk is not zero. But we cannot use the fact that the risk isn’t zero to create fear amongst parents over the vaccine,” said Boi Ruiz, who is Catalonia’s health chief.
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