She had several other health conditions and was taking medications that suppressed her immune system, according to a statement from the Washington State Department of Health. It is the first measles death reported in the whole of the United States since 2003 and the first measles death reported in the Evergreen State since 1990.
SEATTLE (AP) A local health official says a woman killed by measles in Washington state had been vaccinated against the disease as a child but succumbed because she had a compromised immune system. “It was before that person developed a rash that was indicative of measles”, said Stehr-Green.
The Washington State Department of Health confirmed Thursday that the death of an unnamed woman earlier this year was due to an undetected measles infection that was only discovered after her autopsy. However, dying from the illness is extremely rare, Moyer said. No deaths resulted from that outbreak. The fence of protection that vaccine-induced immunity throws up around all of us protects not only those who are vaccinated, but those who can’t be: infants too young to get the vaccine and anyone who, like the Washington woman, possesses an immune system undermined by medical treatment or biological hazard. That’s when the woman most likely was exposed.
Anne Schuchat, director of the National Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press there have been 178 cases of measles in the country so far this year. Tests back this week from an autopsy revealed she died of pneumonia due to measles.
It was not immediately clear whether the woman had been immunized against measles, though the agency noted that people with compromised immune systems often cannot be vaccinated.
Schuchat said the best protection is immunization.
Indeed, the Washington State Department of Health reports “She didn’t have some of the common symptoms of measles, such as a rash, so the infection wasn’t discovered until after her death”.
It stressed that no one who had contact with any of the known cases remains at risk.
The CDC attributes this to two things: more measles cases coming into the United States, and more spreading of the disease in communities with pockets of people who are not vaccinated.
It’s possible to develop measles within three weeks of exposure.
This case was not related to the measles outbreak at Disneyland, which started in December and sickened more than 140 people across the country and in Mexico and Canada, Moyer said.