A six-year-old boy has died from diphtheria in Spain’s first case of the disease since 1987. 

BACTERIA: Corynebacterium diphtheriae
BACTERIA: Corynebacterium diphtheriae

The child had been fighting the disease since the end of May at a hospital in Barcelona, which confirmed his death via its Twitter account.

He had not been vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, which has become increasingly rare in western Europe in recent decades thanks to vaccinations.

Nine other children and one adult were exposed to the bacteria but did not develop Diphtheria, which mostly affects the nose and throat, because they had all been vaccinated.

The boy’s parents’ decision to not vaccinate him has sparked renewed debate over the risks involved with both having and avoiding vaccines.

“We are appealing to parents to have their children vaccinated,” said Catalunya’s health chief Boi Ruiz.

“The risk is not zero. But we cannot use the fact that the risk isn’t zero to create fear among parents over the vaccine,” he added.

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