Study: Measles deaths drop by 74 percent over last decade

The number of deaths worldwide from measles has dropped by approximately 74 percent over the course of a decade, according to a new World Health Organization study.

Officials with the organization estimate that approximately 9.6 million children were saved from measles death from 2000 to 2010 after successful vaccination campaigns were carried out over a decade ago. The researchers estimated that the number of deaths dropped approximately 74 percent, from 535,300 to 139,300, Associated Press reports.

The study found that most of the deaths were in Africa and India, where fewer children are immunized.

While the accomplishment is major, the WHO failed to meet a goal to cut measles deaths by 90 percent by the year 2010.

"This is still a huge success," Peter Strebel, a measles expert at the WHO and one of the authors of the study, said, according to Associated Press. "You don't reduce measles deaths by three quarters without significantly accelerating efforts."

In recent years, the disease has spread in Europe, with triple the number of infections since 2007. Doctors say that the cases in Europe are on the rise because people do not understand how serious the disease can be. Measles kills approximately one to two children for each 1,000 it infects. The disease can also cause miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women.

"The challenge is to find ways to make measles campaigns happen in countries with weak systems," Daniel Berman, a vaccine expert at Medecins Sans Frotieres, said, Associated Press reports.