Catalan public health authorities have detected the presence of diphtheria bacteria in eight children who have had contact with a six-year-old boy from Olot (Girona), who was confirmed as having contracted the disease last week. The youngster, who is stable but in a very serious condition in the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, had not been given vaccinations due to his parents’ wishes.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the health chief for the region, Boi Ruiz, said the eight children in question “had not developed the disease thanks to them having been vaccinated,” but that they had been confined to their homes in order to prevent them infecting the three percent of children in the Garrotxa area who have not been vaccinated.
The case has seen a huge increase in requests for vaccinations against the disease
“We have carried out a blood smear test on 57 children who were close to the [confirmed case], and the bacteria is in eight of them,” Ruiz explained, adding that the children would begin receiving a course of penicillin in order to eliminate the diphtheria from their systems.
Despite the advances made by the regional health department, the authorities in Catalonia still do not know where the outbreak originated. As such, Ruiz has recommended that all associations that will be organizing summer camps in Garrotxa, where the victim is from, require all parents to present their children’s vaccination cards.
The case has seen a huge increase in requests for vaccinations against the disease. Last week saw immunizations against diphtheria rise by 23%, particularly among adults (28.5%), babies aged under six months (27%) and children aged over 18 months (22%).