“This is a tragic but fortunately rare case in Switzerland” Daniel Koch, of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) 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 FOPH 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 said the FOPH at the beginning of February. 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.