Eight children have tested positive in carrying diphtheria bacteria after coming into contact with a six-year-old boy who last month became the first recorded case in Spain for 29 years.
The new carriers had all had contact with the boy at school, but Catalunya’s health ministry said that none of them had developed the disease.
The six-year-old from the Girona area is still being treated for diphtheria in a Barcelona hospital after first showing symptoms on May 25th.
His condition is described by authorities as “serious but stable”, though reports suggest that his being kept alive on three heart and lung machines, as well as suffering kidney failure.
His parents 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.