First U.S. Measles Death Reported in 12 Years

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Newman_050715For the first time in 12 years, a person has died from measles in the United States.

The Washington State Department of Health confirmed on Thursday that an unidentified woman from Clallam County, Washington died from pneumonia caused by measles.

The woman was likely exposed to the disease at a local health facility where she was being treated for several other conditions. The health department noted that her immune system was likely suppressed by the medication she was on and that she didn’t exhibit the common symptoms of the measles—which is why the disease wasn’t identified until the autopsy.

For the most part, this disease has been controlled by vaccines. However, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an increase in the number of measles cases in recent years. This year alone, 173 people have been diagnosed with the disease in 21 states and the District of Columbia, including 11 people in Washington State and six in Clallam County.

The CDC attributes the increase in measles cases to infected individuals entering the country from abroad and people not getting vaccinated and spreading the disease as a result.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause minor complications like fever, cough, or a rash. More serious complications can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, or even death.

Source for Today’s Article:
Ford, D., “Washington reports first U.S. measles death in 12 years,” CNN web site, July 2, 2015; http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/02/health/us-measles-death/index.html.

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