US records first measles death since 2003

A woman in Washington state has died from the measles, meaning the United States has recorded its first measles death since 2003, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Her measles went undetected — she didn't show common symptoms of measles, like a rash — until an autopsy confirmed she had the virus. Her cause of death was pneumonia due to measles.

The Washington health department believes the woman likely contracted the virus at a local medical facility during an outbreak in Clallam County, which is just south of the Canadian border of British Columbia.

"This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles," a statement from the health department reads.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has had five outbreaks and 178 cases of measles through June 26 of this year. Last year, the nation experienced 668 cases of measles, the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.

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