DIPHTHERIA – Little Boy Dies in Spain

27 June 2015
“A six-year-old boy from Catalonia, whose parents chose not to have him vaccinated, has died, almost a month after he became the first child to contract diphtheria in Spain in almost 30 years.

Eight other children tested positive for diphtheria after coming into contact with Pau, and were kept in isolation under observation but they did not develop the illness. All had been vaccinated.”

27 June 2015

“Nine other children and an adult were exposed to the bacteria but did not develop the disease, having all been vaccinated, according to health services in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region.”

08 June 2015

“Eight children have been confirmed as testing positive to the diphtheria bacteria after coming into contact with the six-year-old boy
All of the eight had been vaccinated against diphtheria. The children have been isolated and are being treated with antibiotics to prevent the onset of the illness.”
05 June 2015
“The mother and father of the six-year-old who is fighting for his life at the Intensive Care Unit of Barcelona’s Vall de Hebron hospital are “destroyed and feel cheated” by the anti-vaccination movement that convinced them not to immunize their son. (He has since died)

Antoni Mateu, Catalonia’s regional secretary for public health …………. pledged to pursue offending anti-vaccination platforms who “spread lies and cause confusion” as they persuade people against the state-recommended immunization programme.”

Rapid Risk Assessment 15 Jun 2015 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
A case of diphtheria in Spain
This is the official public health reporting of the situation and if well worth reading in detail



1. It is important that parents don’t feel that they have been ‘convinced’ by ‘anti-vaccination movements’ not to vaccinate their children.

2. People need information to make the best choices for themselves and their family.

3. In order to do this, they need to look at a wide range of sources in addition to what is available from departments of health, and then make their decision, which will be different for different people and families in different situations.

4. Whether people vaccinate or don’t vaccinate their children, what is crucial, is that they manage their children appropriately when they get their childhood fevers: supportively to  allow externalisation of disease, and not suppressively, which leads to invasive disease and ‘complications’* and, regarding tetanus, that they carry out appropriate wound toilet*.

5. Regarding the little boy in Spain:  everyone’s thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.

6. The statement by health services in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region, as reported by Yahoo News, that eight other children and an adult were exposed but did not develop the disease, having all been vaccinated, is contradicted by previous reports that the eight children had been tested positive for the organism, as well as having been vaccinated were, ” being treated with antibiotics to prevent the onset of the illness“.

7. The 15Jun15 ECDC report (above) states:

Most infections in highly vaccinated populations are asymptomatic or result in a mild clinical course and therefore may remain undiagnosed and hence underreported. However, severe cases including two deaths have recently been reported in fully vaccinated children in Brazil, where the disease is still endemic.”

The reference given is to:
Santos, L.,Sant’anna, L., Ramos, J. et al Epidemiol Infect. 2015 Mar;143(4):791-8.
Diphtheria outbreak in Maranhão, Brazil: microbiological, clinical and epidemiological aspects.

Where the authors state:

“We describe microbiological, clinical and epidemiological aspects of a diphtheria outbreak that occurred in Maranhão, Brazil. The majority of the 27 confirmed cases occurred in partially (n = 16) or completely (n = 10) immunized children (n = 26).  Three cases resulted in death, two of them in completely immunized children.”

8. ECDC state that the only successful treatment of diphtheria is with DAT, diphtheria antitoxin from horse serum, in combination with antibiotics. They say:

“DAT should be administered upon clinical suspicion of diphtheria as it binds to circulating toxin
but does not neutralise toxin that has already bound to ,or entered into, cells. DAT treatment initiated later than 48 hours after onset of systemic toxic symptoms has limited impact on the clinical outcome.

They then go on to say:

although DAT is, when necessary, offered at any stage of the disease.”

This is not logical treatment especially when it is know that:

Administration of DAT can cause acute and delayed hypersensitivity reactions.”
It is no wonder this poor little boy had a bad outcome, he was not given DAT until 9 days after he first presented with symptoms. An ineffective treatment at that stage, but still capable of causing the delayed type hypersensitivity reactions.

9.  ECDC states:

Antibiotic treatment, in addition to the DAT treatment, is necessary to eliminate the bacteria and prevent further spread to other susceptible individuals.

So what is stopping the spread of diphtheria? the vaccine or antibiotics?

10. ECDS states further on:

“The vaccine effectively protects against the effects of the exotoxin produced by C. diphtheria
and C. ulcerans but vaccinated individuals can still be infected by the bacteria, become asymptomatic carriers of toxin -producing strains and may transmit these to others.”

But nevertheless ingenuously says:

Diphtheria vaccines are effective and have essentially eliminated clinical diphtheria disease from the European region.”


“Antibiotic treatment, in addition to the DAT treatment,is necessary to eliminate the bacteria and prevent further spread to other susceptible individuals.”

What is stopping the spread of diphtheria? the vaccine or antibiotics?

11. ECDC continues:

Further, patients should receive immunisation with diphtheria toxoid upon recovery since natural diphtheria infection does not always confer protective immunity.”

What they mean by protective immunity is antibodies. It is well known that after an attack of diphtheria a person may have no or low antibodies, indeed the level of antibodies in diphtheria is known not to correlate with ‘protection’.
However, Harrison’s Textbook of Internal Medicine, (1987) states that second attacks of diphtheria are rare despite the fact that at least ten percent of those who have had the disease do not have measurable levels of antitoxin: more evidence that antibodies to the exotoxin (antitoxin) are not the only reason for immunity.


Early treatment of diphtheria with antibiotics tends to render people susceptible to further attacks when the antibiotics are stopped.

This means that following the Guidelines for treatment of diphtheria just reduces your body’s ability to produce immunity to the organism.

12. It is not known how many people have been exposed to diphtheria. It is obvious that more people were exposed to the diphtheria organism than just those who came in contact with the little boy who had clinical diphtheria, because otherwise where did he get it from?

13. Patently, many other people were exposed as well.

14. A significant number of children in Spain are not vaccinated against diphtheria.

The Uptake rate for Diptheria vaccine is 96-97% in recent years

From 2010-2014 approximately 450 000 children were born in Spain each year

Taking a non vaccination rate of 3%, this means that approximately 13 500 children each year are not vaccinated against diphtheria, 135 000 over ten years, 270 00 over twenty and 405 000 over 30 years, if the rates of birth and vaccination coverage were similar and yet no clinical case of diphtheria were diagnosed in 28 years. It is not known how many subclinical (no symptoms of disease) cases there have been as these are not routinely tested for.

15. If vaccination is the only factor in protecting people against clinical diphtheria, why are there not more clinical cases of diphtheria in Spain?

16. If it is the oft quoted and often misunderstood concept of herd immunity (in its original description it was based on natural immunity from disease, not artificial immunity from vaccination), then why did this poor little boy suddenly get clinical disease now?

17. If vaccination against diphtheria is effective in stopping spread, why did eight vaccinated children who had been in contact with the little boy who died get ‘infected’ with diphtheria expressing the toxigenic gene?

The point of being vaccinated with diphtheria toxin, is not to harbour the toxigenic form.

The fact is that no-one knows how many people ordinarily harbour the toxigenic or non toxigenic form, as it is not tested for unless there is an outbreak or as part of a study. Throat swabs are not routinely done, as most sore throats are viral, and even in those ones which grow a bacterium, in the majority of cases, this is not the cause of the illness.

Even when throat swabs are taken, unless diphtheria culture is requested specifically, it won’t be grown as a completely different culture medium is needed

18. What makes it likely that a toxin producing form of diphtheia is present?

Low iron.

Not all strains of the bacterium produce toxin, only those infected with a certain type of bacterophage (a virus that infects bacteria) in the presence of low extracellular iron concentrations. This factor is utilised in the industrial production of toxin to make the toxoid vaccine.  It is reasonable to suppose  that this takes place in vivo (in real life situations) as well, with toxin production only occurring at significant levels, if at all, when conditions of ‘iron starvation’ occur (Todar 2008). It can clearly be seen from this that poor diet or other factors affecting iron absorption could predispose an individual to infection and invasive disease by an organism that might otherwise be carried harmlessly in their throat.

19. If the health authorities in Spain have confidence in the efficacy of vaccination against diphtheria, why did they also find it necessary to treat the eight vaccinated children, “with antibiotics to prevent the onset of the illness,”?

20. If parents who have not vaccinated their children think that the best way to protect their children against diphtheria and other organism is to vaccinate them, that is what they should do: deciding not to vaccinate is not some kind of cult that you have to sign up for and cannot change your mind about later.

22. Regarding all health – and life  – decisions, you need to make your decisions based on your own situation, that of your family and you own knowledge and experience.


*For ebook: ‘Nursing Children Supportively Through Acute Illness – Safe Management of Fever’                                please  click here
*For ebook ‘TETANUS and Treatment of Cuts, Grazes and Minor Injuries – Safe Treatment of Childhood Injuries‘       please  click here

For more information about diphtheria and other diseases please see:
Childhood Vaccinatable Diseases and Their Vaccines’     please  click here

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 11th Ed, McGraw-Hill Inc 1987 pp550-554
Todar’s Online Textbook of Bacteriology, © 2008 Kenneth Todar, Ph.D.  Diphtheria, accessed 11Dec2008

This is the first sensible coverage I have seen about the Ebola epidemic, using a common sense focus on what makes survivors survive – or not get the disease in the first place – and the biological processes involved.

EBOLA – A Case for Immune Modulated Therapy

By Rob Verkerk PhD, Founder, scientific and executive director,Alliance for Natural Health International Click here to read the article in full

“As the current Ebola epidemic sweeps across West Africa, wiping out over 50-90% of people in its path, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the US opens the door to “unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention”.

Regarding vaccine development:

“…very large questions hang over how well any vaccine might work, what its side effects might be, how many people will be lost prior to its release, and how effective, or otherwise, other interventions will be in the meantime.”

“Ebolavirus disables the innate immune response, but also the acquired humoral and cellular responses that lead to uncontrolled viral replication and dissemination. This then leads to a hyper-response from the immune system known as ‘cytokine storm’. The hijacking of part of the immune system and over-activity of other parts, contributes to the break down of the vascular system, then, commonly, haemorrhaging and death.”

“Having interacted with medics on the frontlines in recent weeks, a picture is beginning to emerge about the differences in immune status and response between those who are most susceptible, as compared with those able to survive. Many of those who die, put simply, have a more compromised immune system before they are even infected. This may be because they are already malnourished or dehydrated, or both.”

“…Previous studies in Gabon have shown that a high prevalence (up to about 20% of the population) of ebolavirus antibodies in healthy populations. This immunity is likely the result of previous epidemics or, more likely, the regular exposure of local populations to the virus, probably via natural reservoir or spillover sources of the virus, such as the hammer-headed fruit bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus) and the little collared bat (Myonycteris torquata). This is thought to be the result of people eating fruit contaminated with bat saliva.”

“This work demonstrates that humans can develop immunity, this of course being one of the justifications for developing vaccines in the first place. But the level of cross-immunity to evolving strains remains somewhat of an open book.”

“Immune status prior to infection is key.”

“The bottom line is that a person’s health and immune status before becoming infected with Ebola is one of the most crucial elements to their prognosis once infected”.

“…it beggars belief, given the knowledge of the virus’ workings, that there’s so little effort going towards priming the immune systems of West Africans, in advance of their exposure. Basic vitamins like vitamins A, C and various B vitamins, as well as minerals like zinc and selenium, are cheap and strongly correlated with enhanced immune response and modulation in the event of challenge by life-threatening viruses.”

“How have we strayed so far off course? ….

  • Too much focus on the dead, rather than the survivors;
  • Too much effort generating fear for something we think needs a high-tech, patented solution, and;
  • Too much control by corporations, including the CDC and their colleagues at NIH, which are set to gain financially by the release of viruses or anti-viral drugs.”

Click here to read the article in full

    Pertussis (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) Vaccine Recommended for Pregnant Women

    ACIP recommends Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy
    The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday, 14-0 with one abstention, to recommend that a tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis booster vaccine be given to pregnant women during each pregnancy, despite concern over the lack of data for the safety of multiple Tdap vaccinations.

    Click here to read the article in full: ‘Infectious Diseases in Children’ 25 October 2012

    Please note the complete absence of any date on safety or efficacy of this new policy – which is already being recommended in the UK as well.

    • No data regarding the safety of  having these vaccines – which are a combination of Whooping Couch, Diphtheria and Tetanus vaccine (in the UK it contains Polio vaccine as well) – every time you are pregnant; not for the mother nor for her unborn child.
    • No data on how it will affect the response of baby to vaccination at the age of eight weeks – whether it will reduce the baby’s ability to make antibodies to the vaccine, as the mother’s antibodies which crossed the placenta can neutralise the vaccine antigens.
    • No data on whether it will stop babies getting Whooping Cough from their vaccinated brothers, sisters and parents – which is the point of the new policy.

    The Vaccine (Repevax in the UK) contains, in addition to the antigens for the diseases, aluminium phosphate and traces of: formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, streptomycin, neomycin, polymyxin B and bovine serum albumin, which are used during the manufacturing process

    Click here to read the summary of product characteristics in full

    In the UK:

    “Experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) looked into the risk of whooping cough in young babies, and looked into the available evidence on the whooping cough vaccine, and concluded that they had no concerns over the safety of the vaccine for the mother or her baby.”

    Click here to read the web page in full

    I do not share their lack of concern.

    You can read the deliberations of the Joint Vaccination and Immunisation Committee meeting of 30 August 2012 where this decision was made here:

    Click here to read the article in full

    See page 3 paragraph 3:

    “Transplacental transfer of anti-pertussis antibodies from immunised pregnant women could provide protection to newborn infants over the first weeks following birth. This approach is likely to be the most effective immunisation strategy to provide protection for young infants.”

    The minutes of the meeting are even more explict further on:-

    10. “The committee noted that, whilst there is good evidence for transplacental transfer of anti-pertussis antibodies, in the absence of a correlate of protection and any studies on the effectiveness of this approach against infection or severity of disease, the effectiveness of prenatal immunisation against pertussis to protect young infants is uncertain”………….

    and concludes at the end of this paragraph that :-

    …………………..”Given the uncertainties about the effectiveness of this approach, it would be important to evaluate the impact of the temporary programme on pertussis infection in infants.”

    In other words, they really don’t know, and we must assume the use of this protocol in the US since June 2011 isn’t enough time for evaluation data to be produced, (or as often happens with vaccines no follow up studies are put in place).