March 1975

Measles MortalityAnalysis of the Primary Cause of Death

Author Affiliations

From the Field Services Branch, Bureau of Epidemiology, and the Immunization Branch, Bureau of State Services, Center for Disease Control, Atlanta. Dr. Barkin is now with the Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Medical Center, Denver.

Am J Dis Child. 1975;129(3):307-309. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1975.02120400019004

Four hundred fifty-four death certificates showing measles as the cause of death were analyzed. These represented 35.4% of the recorded deaths due to measles from 1964 through 1971. Respiratory or neurologic complications of measles or both were noted as the primary cause of death on nearly 90% of the certificates reviewed. In younger children, death was most frequently attributed to respiratory problems, while encephalitis and other neurologic sequelae of measles accounted for a larger percentage of deaths in the 10- to 14-year-olds.

Nearly 17% of the persons who died had some underlying disease at the time of death, the percentage increasing with age. The majority of this group were physically or mentally retarded, or both.