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The U.S. just had its first measles death in 12 years

This Thursday, Washington State health officials announced that a woman had died of measles, becoming the first person in the U.S. to die from the disease since 2003.

This Thursday, Washington State health officials announced that a woman had died of measles, becoming the first person in the U.S. to die from the disease since 2003.

The Washington State Department of Health said that the woman’s symptoms were minimal and the fact that she had measles was only discovered after her autopsy.

From USA Today:

The woman was probably exposed to measles at a medical facility during a measles outbreak this spring, according to the health department. She was at the hospital at the same time as a patient who later developed a rash and was diagnosed with measles. Patients with measles can spread the virus even before showing symptoms.

The woman, who died of pneumonia, had other health conditions and was taking medications that suppressed her immune system, the health department said.

“This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles,” WSDH spokesman Donn Moyer said in a statement.

“People with compromised immune systems often cannot be vaccinated against measles. Even when vaccinated, they may not have a good immune response when exposed to disease; they may be especially vulnerable to disease outbreaks.”

h/t Gawker

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