First Death From the Measles in the USA in a Decade

measlesIt was bound to happen, a death in the USA that is being attributed to measles. This is the first in the USA in the past 12 years and as the details emerge, it is hard to really blame this woman’s death on measles. We don’t know what immune suppressing drugs she was on, or what other underlying medical conditions she had. The news report states, “health officials said she had the injection as a child but succumbed because she had a compromised immune system… the woman had been vaccinated as a child, but because she had other health problems and was taking medications that interfered with her response to an infection ‘she was not protected.’ ” You can read that article here…

My heart goes out to the family. Whether her underlying health condition or the treatment she received ultimately resulted in her death, the family has still lost a loved one. This is however not a time to blame this death on the measles. Measles is still rarely fatal to those with a healthy immune system. The drugs given to this woman that suppressed her immune system are as much to blame as the measles virus. This is the known risk when taking immune suppressing drugs; you are greater risk of cancer and infections.

It does serve as a reminder for those who can safely get the measles vaccine to do so, so we can minimize the number of cases out there, and thus provide relative protection for those who are immunocompromised or are unable to get the vaccine for various reasons. The other option is to check measles titers to be sure you are immune. Historically, 95% of people who got one Measles vaccine (whether by itself or as the MMR) have lasting protection against measles.

In my office, I recommend that you wait until age 3 for the MMR and avoid acetaminophen. There is a very compelling study that links the use of acetaminophen and the MMR vaccine to autism. You can read more about that here…



Dr. Paul


One comment

  • T&C

    I would really like to know if the strain of measles she contracted was the vaccine strain. The one thing that you cannot do if you are taking immune suppressing drugs is be around people or children who have recently been vaccinated as they shed. This has been documented to happen. Many oncologists will not allow recently vaccinated to be near patients on chemo.

    I too am sorry that this happened but I am angry the media has blown this up to be the fault of people not vaccinating. People are not being told that if you are taking immune suppressing drugs or chemo, etc. that all those people who are running out to get their live-attenuated vaccines are shedding virus and the real cause of exposure and danger to immune-suppressed people.

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