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8-year-old child dies of “the forgotten disease” Diphtheria in Athens UPD2

An 8-year-old child has died following infection with the toxinogenic diphtheria strain bacterium, media report on Thursday. The child did not have the necessary vaccinations. It is the first death caused by the diphtheria bacterium in Greece in decades. The disease has been eradicated due to vaccination in all developed countries. Greece’s health services are on high alert, awaiting the autopsy results.

The child was reportedly taken to Children’s Hospital Aglaia Kyriakou in Athens with severe respiratory problems on November 22 and and passed away later four days later, on November 26.

The case became known after a doctor at a private hospital posted about it.

The parents had initially taken the child that had developed symptoms of laryngitis to a private hospital. They were told that the child needed to be hospitalized, but they reportedly refused.  When the health condition worsened, the parents took the child to the emergency of the children’s Hospital.

After 48 hours in the Intensive Care Unit, the child died.

Laboratory test have shown the infection with the diphtheria bacteria, media report with the majority of them to attribute the infection to “the parents’ anti-vaccine attitude,” as the doctor who posted about the case claimed.

Citing hospital sources, a news webstie newsit  writes that the child had only received two out of three doses of the combined vaccine DTaP that protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. It did not have any other vaccination against infectious diseases, as the National Vaccination Program in Greece requires. Diphtheria vaccination is done at a young age, normally at the age of 3.

According to medical issues website iatropedia, the child that was also suffering from the Down Syndrome, was an orphan, adopted at the age of 5 and did not receive the vaccination while in the facility for orphans.

State broadcaster ERT said that the child was in foster care.

The Children’s Hospital is investigating the case. Speaking to daily ethnos, hospital governor Manolis Papasavvas said that the child most probably did not have the full vaccination against the disease.

An autopsy is to be conducted.

What is diphtheria?

Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

It causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. 

Diphtheria spreads (transmits) from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, like from coughing or sneezing. Rarely, people can get sick from touching open sores (skin lesions) or clothes that touched open sores of someone sick with diphtheria. A person also can get diphtheria by coming in contact with an object, like a toy, that has the bacteria that cause diphtheria on it.

Official statements by the Children’s Hospital and the Health Ministry are reportedly expected during the day.

UPDATE: Late afternoon Thursday, Children’s Hospital Aglaia Kyriakou issued a statement confirming that the child was infected with diphtheria. “The strain Corinebacterium dipheriae was detected in a sample” taken from the child, the statement said.


In a new statement , the Children’s Hospital said that the child had  received all five does of the diphtheria vaccine.

The child was housed in a state structure where it was vaccinated and then lived in a foster family.

Specific samples form the child have been sent to UK and results are expected in the coming days.

Possible cause of the child’s death is acute respiratory infection, pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary edema, the statement said,

PS the question that worries the medical world and the society is: if the child was vaccinated, why the diphtheria strain was found in the lab tests.

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One comment

  1. Brigitte Brigitte Nehlin

    Answer for: If the child was vaccinated, why the diphtheria strain was found in the lab tests?

    As it is in official studies for a long time known:
    The immune system of Down Syndrome people response in generally slightly insufficient.
    In individual cases it might not respond enough to produce enough long term antibodies after a certain vaccination.
    I urge everone, who doubt my statement, to prove it!