Measles led to death of a US woman; first in US in 12 years. Tragic outcome for immunocompromised patient shows need for community protection
The death of a US woman this July was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy. The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak. She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles. The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system. 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. The cause of death was pneumonia due to measles.
This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. 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.
Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Measles virus is highly contagious virus and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. If you’re not protected, you can get measles just by walking into a room where someone with the disease has been in the past couple of hours.
Children should be vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second at four-to-six years.