Woman in Washington died from measles, becoming first U.S. death from disease in 12 years
OLYMPIA — The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection, the Washington State Department of Health reports, and is the first confirmed measles death in the U.S. in 12 years.
The woman was likely exposed to the measles during a recent outbreak in Clallam County, officials said. The woman, who was at the same medical facility where multiple cases were later reported, had several other health conditions that contributed to a suppressed immune system, officials said.
Her cause of death was officially listed as pneumonia due to measles. She did not have common measles symptoms such as a rash, so the infection wasn’t discovered until after her death.
The woman’s diagnosis brings the state’s case count to 11, and is the sixth in Clallam County for the year. The last active case was reported in late April.
Health officials said the death highlights the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. People with a compromised immune system are extremely vulnerable to the disease, especially in areas where vaccinations have not met certain levels known as herd immunity.
Public health officials recommend that everyone who is eligible for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine get vaccinated so they can help protect themselves, their families, and the vulnerable people in their community.
It is typically only possible to develop measles within three weeks of exposure to the disease, officials. Since month’s have passed since the last active measles case, officials do not believe people are at risk of exposure from the previous outbreak.
California recently enacted a law requiring, requiring all children enrolled in public or private schools to be vaccinated.