This article is from the Childhood Vaccinations FAQ, by Lynn Gazis-Sax firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
In 1900, there were 40.3 deaths per 100,000 population from diptheria
in the US. There was a sharp decline in the number of deaths per
100,000 both before and after routine vaccination was instituted in
the 1940s, and in 1990 there were 4 cases of diptheria reported in the
US. (_Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to
1970_ and _Statistical Abstracts of the United States_.
In Europe, there were large diptheria epidemics during and after World
War II, with an estimated one million cases and 50 000 deaths in 1943
(source: WHO web page on diptheria, written March 1998,
recently, there have been large epidemics in Russia and the Newly