One child under five years of age died of measles in Ontario, a first here and more than ten years in this Canadian province, the local health department announced.

The child required hospitalization and was not vaccinated against measles, Public Health Ontario (PHO) said, without specifying when and where the child died, or his exact age.

From January 1, 2013 until this week not a single death from measles had been recorded in this province.

Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by an airborne virus that mainly affects children under 5 years of age. It can be prevented with two doses of a vaccine and, according to the World Health Organization, more than 50 million deaths have been prevented since 2000.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blamed her “increasing reluctance towards vaccines” occurring in the last decade in North America but also in other countries of the world for some outbreaks of preventable childhood diseases. “My advice to all families is, listen to your doctors, talk to doctors about what vaccines are right for children (…) this is a tragedy that no one wants to experience. I can’t imagine what the family is going through right now,” he said, speaking to reporters in Winnipeg.

In February the WHO warned that more than half the world’s countries would be at high risk of a measles outbreak by the end of the year if urgent action was not taken. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, they have been reported 22 cases this year and 15 of them in travelers. From 2013 to 2023 the cases were only 101.

Canada eliminated measles in 1998 thanks to extensive vaccinations. As a result, cases in Ontario are usually associated with travel abroad and are often called “imported measles.”