The child, who suffered from a heart defect, had been admitted to a hospital in nearby Acireale suffering from measles, but was transferred to the intensive care unit in Catania on Wednesday after his respiratory and cardio-circulatory problems worsened, Sicily Today reported.
A few weeks earlier he had been discharged from the Catania hospital after undergoing treatment for bronchial pneumonia and bronchiolitis brought on by the respiratory tract virus, RSV. A 25-year-old woman also died of measles at the same hospital in late March.
Italy’s outgoing centre-left government had made injections against measles mandatory for children starting at state schools amid a growing anti-vaccine movement.
“The tragic death of this small patient, who hadn’t yet reached the age at which he could receive the vaccine and so contracted the infection from someone who hadn’t been vaccinated, is a warning to everyone that vaccinations not only protect themselves but the wider community,” Sergio Pintaudi, a doctor at the hospital, told Ansa.
Italy's two populist parties – the League and the Five Star Movement (M5S) – have pledged to scrap the compulsory vaccination law should they enter government. The pledges came despite there being 5,000 cases of measles reported last year – six times higher than in 2016 – and four deaths. None of the four victims had been vaccinated.
Both parties made big gains in last month's elections – M5S emerged as the biggest single party while the League had the strongest performance within a centre-right coalition. The vote produced a hung parliament, with a second round of talks to form a government due to take place next week.
Meanwhile pro-vaccine medics earlier this week called for the latest of edition of the popular doll, Cicciobello, which suffers from measles that can be cured with cream and plasters, to be withdrawn.
The toy, called Cicciobello Morbillino (Cicciobello Measles), was launched by manufacturer Giochi Preziosi, on Tuesday. Doctors argued that the toy risked trivialising the disease.