Authorities in Greece have reported a confirmed case of toxigenic respiratory diphtheria.
The case was identified in an eight-year-old child who had been treated at the General Children's Hospital of Athens for a severe respiratory infection with positive culture for Corynebacterium diphtheriae in bronchial secretions. The child died on 26 November 2019. Further laboratory investigations were carried out which confirmed that the C diphtheriae strain isolated from the samples was toxigenic.
The details were revealed in the latest Communicable Disease Threats Report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which pointed out that diphtheria is a rare disease in Greece and other European Union/European Economic Area countries. It said the last recorded death from diphtheria in Greece was in an imported paediatric case in 1994, while the last lethal autochthonous case was in the 1970s. It also noted that latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF show the Greek immunisation coverage estimate for DTP1 in 2018 was more than 95 per cent.
The ECDC said it will be continuing to monitor this event through epidemic intelligence activities.