Spanish child diagnosed with diphtheria - May 2015


Spain reported its first case of diphtheria since 1986. The child who developed severe diphtheria disease in May, required hospitalisation and had not been vaccinated with a diphtheria containing vaccine. The infection was acquired within Spain and was not travel related.

Diphtheria is a life-threatening condition with a high risk of sequelae among survivors, and the only effective protection is vaccination. A case of diphtheria in an unvaccinated individual within a highly protected population is not unexpected, because vaccinated people can be asymptomatic carriers of the bacteria toxin producing C. diphtheria.

This case highlights the importance of protecting every individual from diphtheria. No other cases were identified among close contacts, all of whom were vaccinated against diphtheria.

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) published a Rapid Risk Assessment on June 15th 2015.

More information on diphtheria is available on the HPSC website.