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The West Virginia Department of Health provides an update on measles

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 in fifteen years in late April.

Friday, May 10, 2024 was the last day on which all first-degree contacts with the infected individual completed their monitoring period. The case associated with international travel in Monongalia County was quickly identified by local health care providers and addressed by the DH in collaboration with local health departments. More than 150 people may have been exposed, including 128 West Virginians from 30 counties and four states.

“Thanks to a rapid and comprehensive response through aggressive contact tracing and cooperation from the public, I am pleased to report that no new cases of measles have been reported,” said Secretary Sherri Young, DO, 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 contained is because West Virginia has strong herd immunity, which protects vulnerable people – infants, people with weakened immune systems, 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 also your loved ones,” 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 usually given in two doses, with the first recommended between 12 and 15 months of age. The second dose is recommended between ages four and six and is required in West Virginia before entering kindergarten. Unless they have other evidence of immunity, adults born after 1956 should receive at least one dose of MMR vaccine, and two appropriately spaced doses of MMR vaccines are recommended for healthcare workers, students, and international travelers. The Office of 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 health care 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. For more information about MMR vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html.