Alcoholic man died of measles at height of epidemic

A MAN’S death at the height of one of the biggest measles epidemics to hit the UK in years was because he contracted the disease, an inquest heard.

Tests to find what had killed Gareth Culfer-Williams, 25, of Port Tennant, Swansea, south Wales, were initially inconclusive.

But at an inquest into his death it was confirmed yesterday that a strain of pneumonia caused by measles was responsible.

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Hundreds of measles cases had been diagnosed in the greater Swansea area at the time of his death. Health experts warned that children who had missed out on the measles, mumps and rubella jab (MMR) were most at risk and a major vaccination programme was launched.

The death of Mr Culfer-Williams, at his home on April 18, only served to underline the potential danger.

An inquest in Swansea heard he was believed to be struggling with alcoholism at the time of his death. He was chronically under weight, at 7st 7lb.

Swansea coroner Philip Rogers recorded a verdict of natural causes.

Dr Mauritzio Brotto carried out the post-mortem examination and concluded he “died of giant cell pneumonia due to measles”.

The father-of-one had undergone treatment for his addiction two weeks before and was put on a detoxification plan.

Nine days into that plan, on April 15, he went to see his local GP and complained of spots on his body.

A rash was noted on his body, but not on his arms, legs or face, and he was told to stop taking his detoxification medicine in case he was reacting to it.

Two days later he was told by the same surgery to return for a review after he called in complaining of the same symptoms.

It is unknown whether he attended, the coroner said.

That evening he was at home with his partner, who later told police “he had a very high temperature and a rash and was suffering what was described as hallucinations”, Mr Rogers said.

She stayed with him until the early hours of the following morning before leaving briefly, returning a little later to find him dead on the sofa.