West Virginia Department of Health provides measles update

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health (DH) applauded residents for their cooperation and commitment to public health after successfully containing the first case of measles reported in 15 years in late April.

Friday, May 10th, 2024, marked the last day when all first-degree contacts with the infected individual passed their monitoring period. The case linked to international travel in Monongalia County was quickly identified by local healthcare providers and addressed by the DH in collaboration with local health departments. More than 150 people were potentially exposed, including 128 West Virginia residents from 30 counties and four states.

“Thanks to a swift and comprehensive response through aggressive contact tracing and cooperation from the public, I am pleased to report no additional cases of measles have been reported,” said Secretary Sherri Young, D.O., MBA, FAAFP.

The case highlights the importance of staying up-to-date on vaccinations, especially the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is highly effective in preventing measles.

“The reason this case of measles was able to be contained is because West Virginia has strong herd immunity, which protects vulnerable people – infants, immunocompromised people, and older adults – from the spread of deadly diseases like measles. The MMR vaccine is the best defense against measles, not only to protect yourself but your loved ones as well,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, State Health Officer. “While this case was contained, outbreaks of the virus continue to plague other states. We encourage all West Virginians to check their vaccination records and get vaccinated if they are not immune.”

The measles vaccine is typically given in two doses with the first recommended between 12 and 15 months of age. The second dose is recommended between four and six years and, in West Virginia, is required before entering kindergarten. Unless they have other evidence of immunity, adults born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, and two appropriately spaced doses of MMR vaccines are recommended for healthcare personnel, college students and international travelers. The Bureau for Public Health recommends the safe and effective MMR vaccination as part of a routine vaccination schedule for all children and adults.

MMR vaccines are available through healthcare providers and local health departments across the state. To find a local health department near you, visit https://dhhr.wv.gov/localhealth/pages/map.aspx. To learn more about MMR vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html.

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