Measles Deaths in the 21st Century

Breaking News – two people have died in Sicily, bringing the total to six measles deaths in Italy this year. (see below)

Measles is a big killer.

According to the WHO, “In 2015, there were 134,200 measles deaths globally – about 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths every hour.”

But it wasn’t that long ago, in 1980, that measles was causing at least 2.6 million deaths a year. And just 17 years ago, in 2000, measles caused about 777,000 deaths worldwide.

Measles Deaths in the 21st Century

While some experts doubt if we will ever truly eradicate measles, like we have done for smallpox, a lot of progress is being made on reducing measles outbreaks and deaths thanks to routine and supplemental immunizations.

Tragically, measles still kills.

“For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.”

CDC – Complications of Measles

And it is not just in developing countries that don’t have access to vaccines or adequate levels of vitamin A or modern healthcare. It should also be obvious, when you look at the cases below, that you don’t have to wait for there to be a 1,000 people in an outbreak for there to be a death. It could be the first person in the outbreak or you might see three deaths between cases 3,000 to 4,000.

Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn't deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe - another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.
Dr. Bob Sears actually reassured parents that measles wasn’t deadly in developed countries, neglecting to mention the dozens of people who have died in outbreaks in Europe – another well-nourished population with lower vaccination rates than the U.S.

During the 2010 and 2011 outbreaks in Europe, after all, with about 30,000 cases of measles each year, there were at least 28 deaths. It’s worse now…

The National Center for Communicable Disease Control and Control in Romania is now reporting 59 measles deaths.
The National Center for Communicable Disease Control and Control in Romania is now reporting 59 measles deaths.

In the last few years, there are reports of at least 116 deaths in the measles outbreaks across Europe, including:

  • the death of a 10-month-old unvaccinated child in Bulgaria (among just 163 cases)
  • four deaths in France – a 16-year-old unvaccinated girl from Nice, who died in Marseille, a 32-year-old unvaccinated women in Poitiers, a 26-year-old with immune system problems who was probably infected by an unvaccinated relative, and a 16-year-old in Bordeaux, an immunosuppressed girl who had received a heart transplant when she was 2 years old. Three of the deaths have occurred in 2018 and there have been just 2,567 reported cases since November 2017.
  • the death of a 37-year-old partially vaccinated women (the mother of 3 kids) in Essen, Germany (among about 866 cases)
  • four deaths in Greece, where there have been 2,830 cases – including an 11-month-old unvaccinated infant, a 35-year old partially vaccinated mother, an unvaccinated 17-year-old, and a vaccinated, but immunosuppressed 18-year-old.
  • at least ten deaths in Italy (four in 2017 and six in 2018, among just 7,649 cases), including a 6-year-old boy with leukemia who reportedly caught measles from an unvaccinated sibling. The other deaths included an unvaccinated 9-year-old girl, a 16-month-old, a man with a compromised immune system, a 27-year-old woman, a 25-year-old woman, and a 10-month-old boy.
  • two deaths in Kosovo, including a baby who died in a hospital in Pristina.
  • the death of a 17-year-old girl who was not vaccinated in Portugal (among just 31 cases)
  • 59 deaths in Romania, almost all unvaccinated children without preexisting conditions, including a three week old baby (among 14,142 cases since January 2016)
  • at least 15 deaths in Serbia (among about 5,598 cases), including a 20-year-old unvaccinated man, a two year old boy and mother, an unvaccinated 4-year-old, and a previously healthy, unvaccinated 30 year old woman.
  • one death in Spain
  • the death of a vaccinated man who was being treated for leukemia in Switzerland (among just 69 cases)
  • 17 deaths in Ukraine – eleven children and six adults, including an unvaccinated toddler who died at a children’s hospital in Odessa and a 10-month old (among about 24,000 cases, mostly unvaccinated children). This includes five deaths in 2017 – three children and two adults, among about 4,782 cases.

Unfortunately, measles cases continue to rise in most of these countries and many others…

The latest deaths – two unvaccinated adults in Italy.

Outside of the EU, cases of measles and deaths include:

  • 4,168 in the Philippines and 13 deaths in 2018
  • 13,817 cases in the DR Congo with at least 178 deaths
  • 2,246 cases in Ethiopia
  • 1,891 cases in South Sudan with at least 16 deaths
  • 1,527 cases in Guinea with at least 2 deaths
  • 10 deaths of children in Bangladesh
  • 40 deaths of infants in Indonesia
  • 17,772 cases in Nigeria with at least 105 deaths
  • 20 deaths and dozens of hospitalizations in Pakistan
  • about 1,735 cases and 10 deaths in Brazil
  • at least 97 deaths in Venezuela, including 53 deaths among Warao and Yanomami indigenous people

And although there haven’t been any deaths, there are also outbreaks in:

  • Japan – 206 cases
  • UK – 2171 cases (unconfirmed)
  • Canada – 24 cases
  • Australia – 78 cases
  • Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru

Are you planning a trip to Europe any time soon? How about Indonesia or DR Congo, for which the CDC has also issued travel health notices? Even if you aren’t, as these outbreaks rise, it increases the chances that another traveler will bring measles home and expose someone in your community, starting an outbreak.

And while we deal with folks who simply don’t want to vaccinate and protect their kids, no one should lose sight of the fact that “In 2015, there were 134,200 measles deaths globally – about 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths every hour.”

What To Know About Measles Deaths

Kids are still dying of measles and the big take away should be that it doesn’t take thousands of cases for there to be a death and it can happen to a healthy child in a developed country with modern healthcare.

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated. Stop the Outbreaks

More Information About Measles Deaths

Updated September 30, 2018

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12 thoughts on “Measles Deaths in the 21st Century

    1. Really? Clean water and good hygiene will stop an AIRBORNE disease? It’s these type of nonsensical comments that make me boil with rage. What’s next? Wash hands to prevent AIDS?

      Like

  1. Scientific evidence demonstrates that individuals vaccinated with live virus vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), rotavirus, chicken pox, shingles and influenza can shed the virus for many weeks or months afterwards and infect the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

    So, you vaccinate yourself or your child and then you shed and spread it but you’re blaming people that don’t vaccinate?

    Nice try 🙄🤘🏻

    Like

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