The USA has faced its first death by measles death in 12 years according to Washington state health officials.
Measles has surged back in recent years as groups of like-minded parents have opted against fully vaccinating their children. Last year, 644 people contracted the virus.
A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland over the Christmas holidays in December spread across the country, including to Washington state.
So far this year, 178 people have been diagnosed with measles, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some states have already responded to the situation by being extra cautious, passing laws to require more children to be vaccinated. Both Vermont and California this year repealed exemptions that allowed unvaccinated children to attend school due to their parents’ persona beliefs.
The Washington State woman was probably exposed to the disease at a medical facility during a measels outbreak this spring, according to the health department. She was at the hospital while a patient who developed a rash and was diagnosed with measles was present at the same time. Patients with measles can spread the disease without even realizing it.
The woman who had died had other health conditions and was taking medications which suppressed her immune system. She passed away as a result of pneumonia, which is one among the many health complications of measles and the most common cause of death from the virus. Measles kills one or two people in every 1000 infected patients.
The disease used to strike a huge number of Americans each year before vaccination was available, killing 500 in every 3 to 4 million Americans affected in a year. During the last major measles epidemic from 1989 to 1991, measles infected 55,000 people and killed 166. The outbreak spurred the CDC to boost the recommended number of measles shots for children from one to two. The measure decreased the number of cases to a large extended.