A Washington State woman has succumbed to measles. She’s the first U.S. resident to die of the disease in more than a decade.
It’s believed the woman, whose name has not been released, may have died because she showed few of the symptoms associated with measles–including a rash. In fact, the infection wasn’t detected until after the woman had died.
Seattle medical experts say the woman had actually been vaccinated as a child, but succumbed to the disease because she suffered from other serious health conditions. She was reportedly taking medications that may have actually made her more vulnerable to a measles infection.
Measles is a highly contagious condition that can be spread when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes near another human being. Still, it’s rare to have someone die from the disease, particularly if they show typical symptoms.
The Washington State woman’s death is expected to revive discussion about the importance of vaccination. Although this woman had been vaccinated, her death shows just how dangerous a measles infection can be.
Late last year an outbreak of measles was linked a number of unvaccinated people visiting Disneyland. The outbreak, which started in December, eventually spread across the United States and into both Mexico and Canada. Thankfully, no one died as a result.
“We really rely on people who can be vaccinated to protect those for whom vaccine protection isn’t available,” notes Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).