A woman from Washington state died from a case of measles. The Washington State Department of Health confirmed it was the first death in the country since 2003.
A report by the Los Angeles Times says the woman from Clallam County died of pneumonia in April. But it was only during the autopsy that it was discovered she died from measles. The pneumonia could be an apparent complication from the disease. Donn Moyer, a spokesman for the Washington state Department of Health, said it was probably in January when the woman got exposed to the disease, perhaps while visiting a clinic.
She consulted a different sickness. She was given a number of medications to help her heal. But because she wasn’t diagnosed properly, the medications only suppressed her immune system, the health department said. Moreover, she didn’t exhibited rash, which is a common symptom of measles.
Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Director of the Vaccine Education Center, said the symptoms failed to show because of the woman’s already compromised immune system. “It was not working well enough to cause them.”
Officials didn’t confirm if the woman was vaccinated. They also refused to reveal her name and age. But they stressed she was not elderly.
Moyer said at least 11 cases of measles have been reported in Washington this year. Six came from Clallam County. He added there were also other people who went to the same clinic for measles affliction. Health authorities believed it was that time when she got exposed.
Measles is highly contagious. It spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Cases of death, however, from getting afflicted from measles is extremely rare, Moyer said.
The woman died at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle after being treated in Clallam.
“This should have been a preventable death, and I think her death is a tragedy,” Dr. Mark Schleiss, professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Minnesota, said. “Measles is a disease we know we can control with effective immunizations. For this to happen is really unfortunate and unnecessary.”