First Measles Death in Switzerland since 2009

Photo credit: Shannon Fagan |

Young man dies of measles in Switzerland

24/03/2017 By Le News

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“This is a tragic but fortunately rare case in Switzerland” Daniel Koch, of the BAG (Federal Office of Public Health) told the Tages-Anzeiger this morning, regarding the death of a young man in January. This is the first measles death in Switzerland since 2009 when a 12 year old girl died in Geneva.

The BAG did not want to go into the details, but said that the patient also had leukaemia. He eventually died of lung failure and his immune system had been seriously weakened by the treatment he was receiving, which meant the measles vaccination he received was less effective.

“We don’t know where he caught the illness” said Daniel Koch, alluding to the importance of eradicating the disease in Switzerland.

In 2016, 70 cases were recorded. In 2015, the number was 36, and in 2014, it was even lower at 22. Several Swiss cantons have seen the disease spread at the beginning of February the BAG said. Cases have been reported in Ticino, Graubunden, Fribourg, Solothurn, St. Gallen and Zurich. Several cases were reported over the school holidays. The risk of spread increases when people are mobile.

Despite rising rates of measles, rates of vaccination are increasing in Switzerland. Data from eight cantons shows that in 2014 on average 93% of 2-year-olds had received the measles vaccine, and 83% had received two doses. Daniel Koch told the Tages-Anzeiger that the number of vaccinated young adults rose from 10% to 87% between 2012 and 2015, something he is very pleased about.

More on this:
20 Minutes article (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
Tages-Anzeiger article (in German)

Link to original article HERE

News Release

For immediate release: July 2, 2015 (15-119)

Contacts: Donn Moyer, Communications Office 360-236-4076
Measles led to death of Clallam Co. woman; first in US in a dozen years

Tragic outcome for immunocompromised patient shows need for community protection

OLYMPIA ¾ The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy.

The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County. She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles. The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system. She didn’t have some of the common symptoms of measles such as a rash, so the infection wasn’t discovered until after her death. The cause of death was pneumonia due to measles. (Emphasis added)

This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. People with compromised immune systems often cannot be vaccinated against measles. Even when vaccinated, they may not have a good immune response when exposed to disease; they may be especially vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Public health officials recommend that everyone who is eligible for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine get vaccinated so they can help protect themselves, their families, and the vulnerable people in their community.

Measles is highly contagious even before the rash starts, and is easily spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. If you’re not protected, you can get measles just by walking into a room where someone with the disease has been in the past couple of hours.

Children should be vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second at four-to-six years. Adults born after 1956 should have at least one measles vaccination; some people need two. The state Department of Health immunization program has online information about measles and measles vaccine.

The measles diagnosis for the Clallam County woman brings the state’s case count to 11, and is the sixth in Clallam County for the year. The last active case of measles in Washington this year was reported in late April. Within about three weeks of exposure to someone with measles, it’s possible to develop the disease. Since more than three weeks has already passed since the last active measles case, no one who had contact with one of the known cases is any longer at risk for developing measles from those exposures.

The last confirmed measles death in the United States was reported in 2003. More information about measles nationwide is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.



Swiss measles casesSource

Measles cases EuropeSource

– Think the US Has a Measles Problem? Just Look at Europe

– Measles outbreak spreads across Europe as parents shun vaccinations, World Health Organisation warns

– Measles mortality graph England and Wales
uk-measles-1838-1978 - CopySource

– Measles mortality graph USA


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