The Dreaded, Deadly Measles

Measles deaths in the UK, 1940-2008. I dug this up looking into measles deaths after I heard a claim that Wakefield’s study had led to such a drop in MMR uptake that this had resulted in 500 deaths. Where were these deaths? Not in the UK, obviously, because there were only 14 deaths from measles from 1998-2008 and as the source explains, all but two were caused by late complications of measles acquired earlier in life, not acute measles.

Deaths from measles fell 60% worldwide from 1999 to 2005. In 2005, there were 12 deaths from measles in Europe: 11 in Romania and 1 in Germany. Shall we blame Wakefield and the vaccine resisters in the UK for this? The vast majority of deaths occur in developing nations. Do you think this may have something to do with poverty, poor sanitation and nutrition? I guess it is more profitable to send them vaccines than to work on the underlying problems that make children in these countries susceptible to disease.
http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?PublicationType=W&Volume=12&Issue=4&OrderNumber=1

The TImes of India attributes the resurgence in measles since 2007 (mostly in Africa) to lack of political support for MMR campaigns, not vaccine resisters in Europe.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Measles-making-a-comeback/articleshow/5963935.cms
Data from England and Wales: 1940-2008
year cases deaths
1987 42,158 6
1988 86,001 16
1989 26,222 3
1990 13,302 1
1991 9,680 1
1992 10,268 2
1993 9,612 4
1994 16,375 0
1995 7,447 1
1996 5,614 0
1997 3,962 3
1998 3,728 3
1999 2,438 3
2000 2,378 1
2001 2,250 1
2002 3,232 1*
2003 2,488 0
2004 2,356 1
2005 2,089 0
2006 3,705 1
2007 3,670 1
2008** 5,088 2

* Known not to be measles infection
**Provisional data

Source: Office for National Statistics

“In 2006 there was one measles death in a 13 years old male who had an underlying lung condition and was taking immunosuppressive drugs. Another death in 2008 was also due to acute measles in unvaccinated child with congenital immunodeficiency whose condition did not require treatment with immunoglobulin. Prior to 2006, the last death from acute measles was in 1992.

All other measles deaths, since 1992, shown above are in older individuals and were caused by the late effects of measles. These infections were acquired during the 1980s or earlier, when epidemics of measles occurred.

Graph: Measles notifications and deaths in England and Wales, 1940-2008”

http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733835814

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