As measles cases rise in the US, West Virginia has its first case in 15 years

Up to 90% of people in close contact with someone infected will also become infected if they are not properly vaccinated, officials warn
Global Measles
Posted at 12:25 PM, Apr 23, 2024

The West Virginia Department of Health said the state has just discovered its first case of measles since 2009 as the number of illnesses has increased in the U.S.

Health officials considered the person "under-vaccinated," and they had just traveled internationally. The Department of Health was undergoing contact tracing due to how contagious the virus is.

The only other detail officials recorded about the case is that the person was a Monongalia County resident. Officials did not say if the person recovered from the illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pneumonia
  • Brain Damage
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Diarrhea
  • Premature birth or low-birthweight baby (in unvaccinated pregnant women who get measles during pregnancy)
  • Loss of immunity to other deadly diseases

From 2010 through 2021, U.S. vaccination rates largely held steady for children at 24 months. As of 2021, 90.8% of children were vaccinated against measles, the CDC said. 

Officials say a vaccination rate of 95% is needed for measles to reach herd immunity.

“The threat of measles exposure in the United States has been growing over the last decade. We strongly encourage individuals to follow the CDC’s immunization schedule and get their children fully vaccinated as soon as they are able,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, West Virginia State health officer. “A recent measles outbreak in Pennsylvania sickened nine individuals, almost all of whom were unvaccinated.”

Health officials warned that if one person has it, "up to 90 percent of the people in close contact will also become infected if they are not protected through vaccination."

The CDC recently reported 97 confirmed measles cases from Jan. 1 through March 28, compared with an average of five cases during the first quarter of each year from 2020–2023.